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Oilers at Canadiens: Five things you should know – Montreal Gazette

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Eric Staal skated Sunday for the first time for Montreal and is expected to make his debut Monday after completing a mandatory seven-day quarantine.

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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Oilers game Monday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio-690, 98.5 FM).

The matchup: If it seems like the Oilers were just in Montreal, that assessment would be correct. Edmonton was blanked 4-0 by the Canadiens last Tuesday. It was an uninspiring performance by the visitors, who directed only 17 shots at goaltender Carey Price. Of course, it also came a night after the Oilers were in Toronto, edging the Maple Leafs in overtime. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are coming off a 6-3 home-ice loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, the defeat ending Montreal’s three-game winning streak. Edmonton (23-14-1) is second in the North Division, a tie-breaker ahead of Winnipeg, both teams with 47 points. The Oilers also are six points ahead of the fourth-place Canadiens (16-9-9).

There’s a dressing-room stall for Staal: Veteran centre Eric Staal skated Sunday for the first time as a member of the Canadiens. Although the team had the day off, the 36-year-old was on the ice at the Bell Sports Complex with a member of the team’s training staff. Acquired March 26 from Buffalo for a pair of draft choices, Staal is expected to make his Montreal debut on Monday, having completed his mandatory seven-day quarantine. He should be rejuvenated now that he has escaped purgatory playing for a lousy Sabres team. In 32 games this season, Staal has three goals and 10 points, along with a plus/minus rating of -20.

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He doesn’t drop the gloves often: It seemed odd Saturday night when defenceman and Canadiens captain Shea Weber appeared forced into a fight with Senators pest Brady Tkachuk. For starters, at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, not many are willing to tangle with Weber. Also, at age 35, isn’t the guy too old to be dropping the gloves? The fight, only his third since coming to Montreal for P.K. Subban, was Weber’s first since March 2020, when he fought Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev. Before that, he hadn’t duked it out with someone since the 2017 playoffs, when he scrapped with the New York Rangers’ J.T. Miller.

This much the Oilers know: Edmonton’s coming off a 3-2 victory at home Friday night against the Calgary Flames. The Oilers’ game the following night, against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, was postponed. According to reports Sunday morning, the number of positive COVID-19 cases on the Canucks has increased to more than 20 players and coaches. While the Oilers will continue on to Ottawa this week for games on Wednesday and Friday, they’re scheduled to entertain Vancouver on April 12 and 14. Those games potentially hang in the balance as of now.

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This and that: Price was beaten for five goals — the sixth was scored into an empty net — on 24 shots Saturday, although he ended up facing 32 shots in total. It marked the fifth time this season Price has surrendered five goals in a game. That’s not good. … Josh Anderson, who paced the Canadiens’ attack with two goals on Saturday, has seven two-goal games in his career — including three this season. … Tyler Toffoli, who returned to Montreal’s lineup Saturday after missing three games with a lower-body injury, scored against the Senators, giving him a team-leading 19 goals in 31 games. … Defenceman Jeff Petry, who might get some consideration for the Norris Trophy, could have removed himself from that conversation with one game. Petry, incredibly, had a plus/minus rating of -5 against Ottawa.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

  1. Canadiens' Shea Weber (6) and Ottawa Senators' Brady Tkachuk (7) fight during the first period at Bell Centre on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

    About Last Night: Senators get revenge on Habs with 6-3 win

  2. The Canadiens acquired the Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres on March 26 in exchange for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick at this year's NHL Draft.

    Eric Staal skates for first time as member of the Canadiens

  3. The Ottawa Senators’ Nick Paul (13) congratulates teammate Connor Brown after he scored on Canadiens goalie Carey Price in game Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

    Canadiens Game Day: A night to forget for the Habs and Jeff Petry

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Blue Jays optimistic Jose Berrios won’t miss next start after abdominal scare – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios is doing much better after leaving Tuesday’s game with an abdominal injury, manager Charlie Montoyo said Wednesday.

After the Blue Jays’ 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the team reported that Berrios left the game due to abdominal tightness on his left side and received post-game treatment.

Berrios threw seven innings of one run ball Tuesday, striking out six and allowing only four hits.

“He’s doing fine,” Montoyo said. “He’s doing a lot better than we thought, which is great news. Actually, you might get to see him playing catch in a little bit to see how he’s doing. He did all the tests. Everything looks good.”

The right-handed pitcher who the Blue Jays acquired at the trade deadline is 11-8 on the season, with a 3.43 ERA in 173.1 innings pitched.

The Blue Jays wrap up their series with the Rays on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. ET/ 12:07 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN Now.

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France to open Billie Jean King Cup defence against Canada

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Reigning champions France will kick off this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Prague against Canada on Nov. 1, with the final scheduled for Nov. 6, the International Tennis Federation said on Wednesday.

Formerly called the Fed Cup, the women’s team competition featuring 12 nations was originally scheduled to be held in Budapest in April last year before being postponed twice due to the pandemic.

France triumphed in the 2019 edition when a team featuring Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and Pauline Parmentier defeated Australia.

This year, Belgium, the 2001 winners, will face 2017 runners-up Belarus on the opening day, while eleven-times winners Czech Republic will play on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4.

The competing nations will each play two group-stage ties to determine the winners of the four three-team groups, who will then progress to the semi-finals. Each tie will consist of two singles matches and a doubles match.

Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Australia, the U.S., Russia and Switzerland will be the other nations competing.

 

(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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Gymnasts Biles, Maroney demand justice in botched FBI sex abuse probe

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) –Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney on Wednesday told U.S. lawmakers she feels betrayed by FBI agents, after they failed to investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, despite her telling them he had sexually abused her.

FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate panel that the actions of the agents who botched the investigation are inexcusable, and he announced that one of the agents “no longer works for the bureau in any capacity.”

“I’m deeply and profoundly sorry,” Wray said.

Maroney is one of four athletes, along with Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee as it probes the FBI’s mishandling of the investigation.

Maroney recalled how in 2015 she spent three hours on the phone telling the FBI the details of her story that her own mother had not even heard, including accounts of sexual abuse she endured during the Olympic games in London by Nassar, whom she described as “more of a pedophile” than he was a doctor.

It was not until July of this year, however, that she said the Justice Department inspector general revealed in a scathing report  what the FBI actually did with the information she provided: Failing to document it for a year and a half, and misrepresenting what she told them about her experiences.

“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said,” Maroney said, with anger in her voice.

Wednesday’s hearing comes after the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz in July issued a scathing report https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/reports/21-093.pdf which blasted the FBI for botching its investigation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-watchdog-release-report-into-fbi-probe-ex-usa-gymnastics-doctor-2021-07-14 in a series of errors that allowed the abuse to continue for months.

Several of the gymnasts said they were furious that the FBI failed to immediately interview them about the abuse after they had reported it. Once the FBI finally did contact them, they said the agents tried to downplay the severity of the abuse.

“I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad,” Raisman said.

“It’s taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter.”

Horowitz also appeared on Wednesday along with Wray.

Horowitz said that the now-fired agent who falsified Maroney’s statement “could have actually jeopardized the criminal investigation by providing false information that could have bolstered Nassar’s defense.”

The FBI declined to name the fired agent, but Senator Richard Blumenthal identified him as Michael Langeman.

Langeman served as a supervisory special agent in Indianapolis, where he led a task force that investigated child sexual exploitation, according to an interview he gave to a local podcast in 2018.

Reuters could not immediately reach Langeman for comment.

The FBI’s investigation into Nassar started in July 2015, after USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office.

That office, then led by Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott, did not formally open an investigation. The FBI only interviewed one witness months later, in September 2015, and failed to formally document that interview in an official report known as a “302” until February 2017 – well after the FBI had arrested Nassar on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.

When the interview was finally documented in 2017 by an unnamed supervisory special agent, the report was filled with “materially false information and omitted material information,” Horowitz’s report determined.

Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, also violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing a possible job with the U.S. Olympic Committee while he was involved with the Nassar investigation.

As the FBI delayed its probe, Nassar went on to abuse more victims. At one point in Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal asked all four athletes whether they knew of victims who were abused after the July 2015 disclosure to the FBI.

“Yes,” all four of them said.

Neither Abbott nor the other unnamed supervisory special agent who botched the Nassar probe were prosecuted for their actions.

Wray said the case was presented twice for possible prosecution and declined, but he deferred to federal prosecutors to explain their reasoning.

“We have been failed and we deserve answers,” Biles said on Wednesday.

Raisman, meanwhile, expressed frustrations that more has not been done to investigate USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee for covering up Nassar’s abuse for years.

“Why did none of these organizations warn anyone? USAG and USOPC have a long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye. Both organizations knew of Nassar’s abuse, long before it became public,” she said.

In a statement, the USOPC said it remains “completely dedicated to the safety and well-being” of its athletes, and it has implemented reforms after hiring a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

USA Gymnastics did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Nassar has been found guilty in three separate cases, with one of the prison sentences running up to 175 years. Prosecutors have estimated he sexually assaulted hundreds of women and girls.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)

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