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Oilers' dynamic duo too much for Canadiens to handle in 4-3 loss – Montreal Gazette

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Oilers' dynamic duo too much for Canadiens to handle in 4-3 loss – Montreal Gazette


Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both score goals as Oilers hand Habs their first loss on Western Canada road trip.

EDMONTON — Before Saturday’s game at Rogers Place, Canadiens coach Claude Julien was asked how his team could stop the Edmonton Oilers’ dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who ranked 1-2 in the NHL scoring race.

“Same way we have with those kind of players that are on different teams,” Julien said. “We’re a team that all five guys have to be aware when they’re on the ice and know that they’re there. So it’s not a big secret. We know that if they have time and space they’re going to make something happen. So we got to play these guys tight.”

Another key part of Julien’s game plan: “Stay out of the box. I think it’s pretty obvious that they’ve got a really good power play. We’re a team that, obviously, plays fairly well five-on-five, so discipline is definitely going to be a key word here for this game tonight.”


Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers battles against Canadiens’ Nick Cousins at Rogers Place on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Edmonton.

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Oilers coach Dave Tippett made things more difficult for the Canadiens when he decided to reunite McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line and they each scored a goal — McDavid’s was on the power play — as the Oilers beat the Canadiens 4-3. Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan also scored for the Oilers.

Jeff Petry (short-handed), Phillip Danault (power play) and Max Domi scored for the Canadiens as they suffered their first loss in three games on this Western Canada road trip and saw their record fall to 17-13-6. The Canadiens also fell out of a playoff spot because the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers both won Saturday to move past them in the standings. The Canadiens are now fourth in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the Leafs and one point behind the Panthers.

The Canadiens and Oilers both had 26 shots and Carey Price saw his career record against Edmonton drop to 3-8-1.

The Oilers opened the scoring only 1:30 into the game when McDavid cut to the inside at centre ice and blew past defenceman Ben Chiarot to set up a two-on-one with Draisaitl. McDavid and Draisaitl combined for a perfect play, giving Price no chance to make a save. It was a two-on-one that could be used in a teaching video for kids.

As for Chiarot, he’s not the first — or the last — defenceman McDavid will make look bad with his blazing speed.

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The Oilers went up 2-0 when Archibald scored at 11:51 of the first period on a play that started when Domi failed to clear the puck out of the Canadiens’ zone. Things went to hell in the defensive zone after that and Mike Reilly showed why he’s been a healthy scratch so often this season as Archibald tipped in a pass from in front of the net. The video from that goal could be used to show kids how not to play team defence.

Petry got the Canadiens on the board at 14:19 of the first period, scoring short-handed on an innocent shot that never should have gone in, beating Mikko Koskinen to the glove side as the Oilers goalie only got a piece of the puck.

Shoot the puck, kids.

Danault tied it up 2-2 at 8:29 of the second period when he deflected a point shot by Petry for the first power-play goal of his career.

McDavid put the Oilers up 3-2 at 15:40 of the second period when he used his speed once again to burst through the middle and made a nice move to his forehand to beat Price for his 21st goal of the season. McDavid’s goal came with Jordan Weal in the box for his second tripping penalty of the game.

Domi tied it up 3-3 at 1:09 of the third period with a nice individual effort, scoring on another shot Koskinen probably should have stopped. Petry picked up an assist, giving him a three-point night. It was the second goal in two games for Domi, after his game-winner in overtime Thursday night in Calgary.

But it was Sheahan who scored the game-winner on this night for the Oilers, completing another two-on-one with a beautiful pass from Archibald at 7:48 of the third period.

At the end of the game McDavid (21-40-61) and Draisaitl (22-38-60) remained 1-2 in the NHL scoring race.

The Canadiens knew what they were getting into against the Oilers, they just failed to follow the game plan.

The Canadiens will wrap up their Western Canada road trip Monday in Winnipeg against the Jets (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills

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North Division

It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.

The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.

Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.

Passers

Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.

Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.

Shooting

A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.

Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.

Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.

Stick Handling

Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.

If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.

Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.

When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.

Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.

Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.

“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.

“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”

After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.

Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.

Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.

“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.

“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.

“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”

Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.

“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.

“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”

For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.

“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.

“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”

 

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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