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Nylander: Matthews is 'picking goalies apart' – TSN

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After finishing one goal back of sharing the Rocket Richard Trophy last season, Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews has gotten off to a torrid start this season, scoring 16 goals in just 17 games. 

Matthews added two more goals to his league-leading total in Thursday’s 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators and extended his current point streak to 12 games.

“He’s picking goalies apart; they don’t really stand a chance,” Maple Leafs forward William Nylander said after the win. “He’s doing it consistently too, which is unbelievable. With his shot and where he scores from, it’s the best I’ve seen.”

Matthews scored 47 goals in 70 games before last season was paused, losing out on the Richard Trophy to Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak, who both had 48. 

The 22-year-old has a four-goal lead over Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser in the race this season, despite three fewer games played than the winger.

Though buoyed by games played in the North Division, Matthews, who missed one game earlier this season with an upper-body injury, has a league-best .94 goals per game (among players who have played two or more games). 

Dallas Stars veteran Joe Pavelski, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reece share the next-best mark at .75. Boeser, by comparison, sits tied for 10th on the list, scoring in 60 per cent of his games.

Auston Matthews

17

16

0.94

Joe Pavelski 12 9 0.75
David Pastrnak 8 6 0.75
Zach Aston-Reece 4 3 0.75
Tyler Toffoli 15 10 0.67
Patrik Laine 9 6 0.67
Steven Stamkos 12 8 0.67
Alex Debrincat 14 9 0.64
Nikolaj Ehlers 16 10 0.63
Brock Boeser 20 12 0.60
Josh Anderson 15 9 0.60
Brad Marchand 15 9 0.60

“I’m just trying to shoot at what’s open to be honest,” Matthews said after Thursday’s win. “The puck is going in the net right now, which is great, but the most important thing is we’re winning hockey games.”

After three straight games against the Senators, the Maple Leafs will next visit the Montreal Canadiens, one of two teams in the North Division – along with the Winnipeg Jets – Matthews is yet to score against this season.

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In the Habs' Room: Canadiens played a perfect game — till they 'cracked' – Montreal Gazette

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It was unreasonable to think Dominique Ducharme could produce a turnaround after one morning skate.

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Dominique Ducharme and his staff have a lot of work to do.

It was unreasonable to think the new head coach could produce a turnaround after one morning skate, but the Canadiens didn’t look much different than they have over the past two weeks leading up to the dismissal of Claude Julien.

The Winnipeg Jets rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Canadiens 6-3 Thursday at Bell MTS Place.

Ducharme said the Canadiens played a perfect game for 30 minutes before they “cracked” — mentally and physically.

Carey Price hasn’t been very good this season, but Ducharme gave him a vote of confidence by starting him. When asked to evaluate Price’s performance — six goals on 31 shots — Ducharme said the $10.5-million man was “like the team, he’s part of the team.” That means he was good at the start and not so good as the game went on and the Jets increased the pressure.

The Canadiens need Price to be a great goaltender but he’s not even good right now. After Thursday’s blitz, he has a 5-4-3 record with a 3.13 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage. In the past, a struggling Price has been able to step away and work with goaltending coach Stéphane Waite but, with the compressed schedule, that’ s a luxury the Canadien can’t afford.

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Ducharme said the Canadiens have to get better at both ends of the ice.

“I think we can be much better with the puck breaking out,” Ducharme said. “We have to be making stronger plays. That doesn’t mean throwing the puck away. We have to be stronger in our decisions, making high-percentage plays in our zone.

“Defending the zone, I thought we did a pretty good job early in the game (but) the more it went, the more we were backing in,” added Ducharme. “There were less turnovers in the neutral zone, less counters, not playing as fast. It all comes together.

“We’re a little fragile right now.,” said Ducharme. “It’s normal. We have to find a way to control the things that we have the ability to control. We didn’t do good work in that aspect of the game. We made mistakes that led to scoring chances and goals.”

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Jonathan Drouin noted that Winnipeg has some talented players on their top two lines but one of the themes going into this season was the Canadiens’ depth and their ability to roll four lines.

The depth was in play Thursday as Joel Armia started the game on the fourth line and scored two  first-period goals.

But the depth took a hit when Josh Anderson left the in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

Ducharme said the injury was a double whammy because Anderson is a talented player and his absence forced the coach to double-shift Armia and Corey Perry on the No. 2 line with Drouin and Nick Suzuki.

Ducharme said he didn’t think the injury was serious but more tests will be needed before he is cleared to play in Saturday’s rematch between the Jets and the Canadiens.

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The game provided a boost of confidence for Phil Danault, who was reunited with longtime linemates Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher. Danault was on the ice for nearly 22 minutes and finished the game as a plus-1 although he struggled in the faceoff circle, winning only nine of 22 draws.

Faceoffs continue to be a problem for the entire team. The Canadiens won only 40 per cent of their draw and the only centre over 50 per cent was Suzuki, who won seven of 13 draws. Jesperi Kotkaniemi won only one of six.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

  1. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is beaten by Jets forward Kyle Connor in Winnipeg Thursday night.

    New coach, same old Canadiens as they fall 6-3 to the Jets

  2. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  3. MONTREAL, QUE.: SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 -- New Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Dominique Ducharme speaks to players during training camp practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday September 14, 2018.  (John Mahoney} / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 61367 - 9188

    New Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme looks calm, cool and confident

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Canadiens vs. Jets recap: Winnipeg spoils Dominique Ducharme’s debut – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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Coming off an overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators that led to the firing of head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller, the Montreal Canadiens hit the road to take on the Winnipeg Jets. But a change behind the bench couldn’t spark the Habs, as the Jets spoiled Dominique Ducharme’s debut with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory.

The Ducharme era began on a promising note, as Montreal reverted to playing a style of hockey that had made them so successful at the beginning of this season. The Canadiens pressured early, using their speed and forechecking to force the Jets to fall back into their own zone.

Having moved away from needlessly dumping and chasing the puck, the Habs instead concentrated on providing more puck support. The defensive core also got in on the action, playing more aggressively and allowing the Canadiens’ offensive lines to challenge Connor Hellebuyck often in the opening minutes of the game.

This strategy would pay off just over halfway through the period, when Alexander Romanov made a heads-up play to spring Joel Armia, who ripped his fourth goal of the season past Hellebuyck to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.

Armia would strike again with less than three minutes left in the period, when he redirected a nifty pass from Jonathan Drouin to double Montreal’s lead.

Though the home team did show some flashes of life throughout the opening frame, Carey Price cooly shut down any scoring chances to keep the Jets off the scoreboard to end the period with a 2-0 lead.

The Canadiens’ momentum began slowly unravelling in the second. The Habs were dealt a tough blow, losing Josh Anderson to injury, and the forward did not return to the game. Though Montreal once again pushed early and often, Winnipeg used the first intermission to regroup and counter-attack against a porous Canadiens defence.

Kyle Connor took advantage of a defensive breakdown to cut Montreal’s lead in half just under five minutes into the frame on the Jets’ first man advantage of the night, when a delay of game penalty was called against Shea Weber.

The Habs responded with a power play marker of their own shortly after, when Neal Pionk was sent off for high-sticking Nick Suzuki. Jesperi Kotkaniemi blew past Nathan Beaulieu to set up a two-on-zero situation with Tomas Tatar, and the Slovak had no trouble burying his fifth of the season to restore Montreal’s two-goal lead.

But that did little to deter the Jets, who used their new-found confidence to go on the offensive. Winnipeg’s persistence paid off just over halfway through the second, when Connor’s wristshot beat Price to cut the Canadiens’ lead back down to one.

Less than three minutes later, Blake Wheeler’s shot was redirected through traffic to tie the game at three apiece. The two goals scored in under five minutes by Winnipeg took the wind completely out of Montreal’s sails, as the team struggled to regain the dominant form it had shown during the opening frame.

Frustration started seeping in as the Canadiens couldn’t respond with a goal of their own, and instead ended the period taking an unnecessary penalty. Jeff Petry was called for roughing Andrew Copp, and the Jets opened the third period on the man advantage.

Though the Habs were able to successfully kill off that penalty and a subsequent high-sticking call against Ben Chiarot, the team put up little resistance to the home team’s offensive pressure. This tepidity would come back to haunt Montreal, when Nate Thompson slipped a shot through Price’s pads to give Winnipeg its first lead of the game — on a goal that Price would definitely like back.

Both teams continued to exchange penalties in the third period. Wheeler was called for hooking Tatar just over seven minutes in, while just under three minutes later Joel Edmundson was given two minutes for slashing Mark Scheifele’s stick away.

Though neither team was able to score on the man advantage, Pierre-Luc Dubois extended his team’s lead seconds after the Edmundson penalty expired. Dubois made quick work of a Canadiens turnover in their own zone and took advantage of scrambling defensive work to extend Winnipeg’s lead to 5-3.

Trying to put some life back into his team, Corey Perry fought Nikolaj Ehlers, but his efforts went to waste as Montreal continued to play more passive hockey and eventually ended up surrendering an empty-net goal to Scheifele.

A strong performance in the opening period became completely undone as the Canadiens gave up five unanswered goals to drop this game to the Jets. Montreal will need to re-group and figure out a way to stanch the bleeding, when they face off against Winnipeg again this Saturday.

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Ex-US Olympics gymnastics coach kills himself after abuse charges – Al Jazeera English

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A former United States Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar killed himself on Thursday, hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them.

John Geddert faced 24 charges that could have carried years in prison had he been convicted. He was supposed to appear in an Eaton County court, near Lansing, but his body was found at a rest area along Interstate 96, according to state police.

“This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Nessel earlier announced  Geddert was charged with several crimes, including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. The charges were the latest fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor now in prison.

Geddert, 63, was not arrested and transported to court. Rather, Nessel’s office allowed him to show up on his own.

“We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or hurt himself or others. We had been in contact with his attorney and were assured of his cooperation,” Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said.

Calls seeking comment from lawyer Chris Bergstrom were not immediately returned.

Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He was long associated with Nassar, who was the Olympic team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym.

Among the charges, Geddert was accused of lying to investigators in 2016 when he denied ever hearing complaints about Nassar. But the bulk of the case against him involved his gym in Dimondale and how he treated the young athletes whose families paid to have them train under him.

The charges against Geddert had “very little to do” with Nassar, said Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark.

Geddert was charged with using his strong reputation in gymnastics to commit a form of human trafficking by making money through the forced labour of young athletes.

“The victims suffer from disordered eating,” Nessel said, “including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault.

“Many of these victims still carry these scars from this behaviour to this day,” the attorney general said.

Nessel acknowledged the case might not fit the common understanding of human trafficking.

“We think of it predominantly as affecting people of colour or those without means to protect themselves … but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” she said. “Young impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial wellbeing of their families.”

Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal. He told families in 2018 that he was retiring.

Victims and others look on as Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in 2016, speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

USA Gymnastics said in a statement late on Thursday news about the charges against Geddert would “lead to justice through the legal process”.

“With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of today’s events,” the organisation said.

On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the “most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history”. He said his Twistars teams won 130 club championships.

But Geddert was often portrayed in unflattering ways when Nassar’s victims spoke during court hearings in 2018. Some insisted he was aware of the doctor’s abuse.

Sarah Klein, a gymnast who trained under Geddert for more than 10 years and was assaulted by Nassar, said the coach’s death was an “escape from justice” and “traumatising beyond words”.

“His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see,” said Klein, a lawyer.

Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in 2016, said she was proud of the women who stepped forward against Geddert.

“So much pain and grief for everyone,” she said on Twitter after his death. “To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you.”

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