CALGARY — Jay Woodcroft couldn’t say it enough times on Thursday, the day after the highest-scoring game in Battle of Alberta playoff history. The day after his two goalies let in nine.
“I was happy that we hung six goals on their starting goaltender on the road,” Woodcroft mentioned of the 9-6 loss. “We hung six goals on their starting goaltender in their building. That should be enough to win a game.”
Woodcroft might be facing a goaltending crisis. So, like any National Hockey League coach, he did what he could to shine the spotlight as far from his own crease as possible. Two hundred feet away, where Markstrom was well below average in Game 1.
But at least Markstrom lasted 60 minutes. And is anybody doubting that the Vezina candidate will regain his form in Game 2?
Then there’s Mike Smith, the modern-day Gump Worsley at 40 years old.
Smith whiffed on the first shot in Game 1, allowed a second goal at the 51-second mark, and by 6:05 of the first period he was pulling on a ball cap, yanked after allowing three goals on the Flames’ first 10 shots.
“It wasn’t an ideal start for our group,” said Smith. “We let each other down.”
Smith stunk in Game 1, but so did his team. He’s right — they did let each other down.
The team, we’ll expect, can put their defensive game back together. But what about the old goalie, who suddenly is being taxed unlike anything he has experienced in five seasons?
Here’s your salient stat of the day: The last time Smith started nine consecutive games was the opening of the 2017-18 season, ironically when he was a Calgary Flame.
This past season he did not start more than four in a row. Last season, no more than six. The season before that, four. The season before that, five.
In his eighth consecutive start in Game 1, Smith hit a wall.
Was it a one-off? Or is he tiring?
“No,” Smith declared Thursday. “It’s the playoffs. You want to play your best hockey of the year. It’s a long series. Stuff happens…”
Smith promises to bounce back in Game 2. Woodcroft went out of his way to announce Smith as his Game 2 starter, a vote of confidence to be sure.
Smith is the goalie here, for better or worse. But at age 40, he is being asked to play more hockey than he has played in years.
“It’s about staying the course and not letting games like that affect you mentally and physically,” said Smith, who did have most of the night off on Wednesday. “This is about as good as I’ve felt all season long. It’s getting the job done when you get the opportunity. There’s no panic in your game. We learn and move on.”
Look, everybody knew the Oilers were taking a chance when they went into the season with a goaltending tandem comprised of the 40-year-old Mike Smith and 33-year-old backup Mikko Koskinen.
Well, now is when we find out the answer to that plan.
General manager Ken Holland whiffed on free agents Markstrom and Darcy Kuemper, while Marc-Andre Fleury simply wasn’t interested in a trip to Oil Country. So, Holland went with the old two-goalie system, and when we say old, we mean old.
Edmonton’s goaltending has been just good enough this season, predicated on Koskinen spelling Smith off every three or four games. But because of injuries, since Smith’s arrival three seasons ago, Koskinen has actually had more regular season starts (102-94) and appeared in more games (109-99).
Suddenly, Smith is in uncharted territory, and the Oilers’ playoff hopes hinge on the 40-year-old recovering his game.
“The message from me is, I want to go out there and be the backbone,” Smith said. “Help this team stay calm, and show that with my play.”
The good news is, with age comes experience.
“I wasn’t very good earlier in my career (at recovering his game), which is why I probably bounced around a bit. Experience helps,” Smith said. “You can’t take back what happened in the past. I could sit here and boo-hoo myself, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. I have to think about what happens next.”
Same goes for his team, which rolled out a heinous defensive effort in Game 1. They got waxed 9-6 because the Oilers allowed 17 high danger scoring chances, a number that needs to get pared down by two-thirds.
Can Edmonton flush that effort?
“It’s probably easier actually just because we didn’t play well at all, right?” said Zach Hyman. “It’s wasn’t one of those games where it’s a tight one and you lose in overtime and think, ‘We should have won that game.’ This was just one you wash away. You’re down 1-0 get back to work.”
Back to work, with their fingers crossed that Smith’s game returns as well.
Ailing Nick Kyrgios prevails at Wimbledon, advancing to 3rd career Slam quarter-final – CBC Sports
Much quieter, much calmer than in his previous match, Nick Kyrgios overcame a troublesome right shoulder to deliver 35 aces and beat Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2 at Wimbledon on Monday to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in 7 1/2 years.
The unseeded Kyrgios improved to 6-0 over his career in five-setters at the All England Club and collected his tour-leading 11th grass-court victory of the season.
“I need a glass of wine, for sure, tonight. For sure,” Kyrgios told the crowd during his on-court interview in London, after swapping out his rule-conforming white hat and shoes for red versions.
Playing before a nearly full house at Centre Court, the 27-year-old Australian only occasionally displayed his unusual repertoire of trick shots — a between-the-legs swing here, an underarm serve there — or the temper that earned fines of $10,000 US for spitting in the direction of a heckling spectator at the end of his first-round match and $4,000 for an audible obscenity during his tempestuous win against No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.
Against Nakashima, an unseeded 20-year-old from California, Kyrgios repeatedly was visited during changeovers by a trainer, who massaged and manipulated his shoulder. There was a stretch where Kyrgios’ high-speed serves dipped from above 217 kilometres per hour to closer to 177, but he eventually seemed to get past that and was back to producing unreturnable offerings over and over.
That’s how to seal a victory 👏<a href=”https://twitter.com/NickKyrgios?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NickKyrgios</a> has the Centre Court crowd on their feet<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wimbledon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Wimbledon</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CentreCourt100?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CentreCourt100</a> <a href=”https://t.co/l8VeZmTTvf”>pic.twitter.com/l8VeZmTTvf</a>
After Nakashima evened things by taking the fourth set with a break, then went up 1-0 in the fifth, Kyrgios surged to the finish. He earned five games in a row, before serving it out and closing this way from love-30: cross-court forehand passing winner; hanging in on an 11-stroke exchange until Nakashima missed a backhand; 216 km/h service winner; forehand volley winner.
“I’ve played a lot of tennis in the last month and a half. I’m just proud of the way I steadied the ship,” Kyrgios said. “Honestly that’s what I was thinking about: I’ve never lost a five-set match here. … I was like, ‘I’ve been here before. I’ve done it before.”‘
Garin wins in comeback fashion
This will be Kyrgios’ third appearance in a major quarter-final. The others came as a teenager at Wimbledon in 2014 — when he surprised then-No. 1 Rafael Nadal along the way — and at the Australian Open in 2015.
“I stepped out here against one of the greatest of all time and beat Nadal,” Kyrgios said. “So, these are all things I have in the back of my mind.”
TFW you come back from two sets down and save two match points to get to the Wimbledon QFs.<a href=”https://twitter.com/Garin_Cris?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Garin_Cris</a> | 🎥: <a href=”https://twitter.com/Wimbledon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Wimbledon</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/wimbledon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#wimbledon</a> <a href=”https://t.co/OXsu2A9JY8″>pic.twitter.com/OXsu2A9JY8</a>
Kyrgios next faces unseeded Cristian Garin, a 26-year-old from Chile who authored the fortnight’s first comeback from two sets down, saving two match points and turning things around to defeat No. 19 seed Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (10-6) after more than 4 1/2 hours.
Garin, who is ranked 43rd, reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final in his 15th major appearance.
Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Australian partner John Peers were eliminated in the mixed-doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon on Monday, ending Canada’s involvement in the professional draws at the grass-court Grand Slam.
Peers and Dabrowski, seeded fourth in the tournament, combined for 13 aces but converted just one of their three break point chances. Pavic and Mizra broke their opponents twice on three opportunities.
Pavic is a former partner of Dabrowski. They won the Australian Open in 2018 and reached the French Open final in 2018 and 2019.
Dabrowski and Mexican partner Giuliana Olmos were eliminated from the women’s doubles event on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Americans Danielle Collinas and Desirae Krawczyk.
The Canadians in the singles main draws — Denis Shapovalov, Bianca Andreescu, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Rebecca Marino — were eliminated over the first two rounds at the All England Club.
Several Canadians are still playing in the junior draws at Wimbledon.
Nadal converts 4th match point to seal win
Everything went smoothly for Rafael Nadal against Botic van de Zandschulp until it came time to close out their fourth-round match at Wimbledon.
Serving for the win at 5-3 in the third set, Nadal was broken for the second time in the match and he then failed to convert three straight match points when leading 6-3 in the ensuing tiebreaker.
That was the end of the Dutchman’s resistance, though, as Nadal converted his fourth match point for a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (6) win on Centre Court.
The Spaniard is playing his first grass-court tournament since 2019, when he lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semifinals. He is looking for his third Wimbledon title and has a chance at a calendar-year Grand Slam after winning the Australian Open and French Open to take his career tally to a record 22 major titles.
He will next face 11th-seeded Taylor Fritz, the only American man left in the draw. The 24-year-old has yet to drop a set and will be making his major quarter-final debut after defeating qualifier Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
2019 champ Halep moves on
Simona Halep is living up to her status as the only former Grand Slam champion left in this year’s women’s draw.
The Romanian beat fourth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2 on Centre Court to return to the Wimbledon quarter-finals and extend her winning streak at the All England Club to 11 matches.
The 16th-seeded Halep won the title in 2019 but missed last year’s edition with an injury, while the 2020 tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic. This was, however, Halep’s first win over a top-five ranked player on grass.
The former No. 1, who also won the French Open in 2018, has yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament and consistently got the better of Badosa in the baseline rallies. She finished with only nine unforced errors and saved the only break point she faced.
Badosa’s loss means No. 3 Ons Jabeur is the only top-10 seed left in the women’s tournament.
Halep will meet No. 20 Amanda Anisimova, a 20-year-old American who beat Harmony Tan of France 6-2, 6-3. Anisimova had eliminated French Open runner-up Coco Gauff last week; Tan eliminated 23-time major champion Williams in the first round.
The other quarter-final on their side of the field will be 17th-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan against Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia. Rybakina made it to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Petra Martic, while Tomljanovic is there for the second straight year after beating Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Cornet ended No. 1 Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak on Saturday.
“I didn’t really think I could do it,” said Tomljanovic, who lost to eventual champion Ash Barty in last year’s quarter-finals. “After some tough moments this year, I thought: Am I ever going to get a chance again? I can’t believe a year later, I’m in the same position.”
Argos miss tying convert as Bombers escape with win – TSN
TORONTO — Although Boris Bede missed a routine convert that would have tied the game and forced overtime, his Toronto Argonauts teammates blamed themselves for their heartbreaking loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“A whole lot more points were missed than just on missed kicks,” Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson said Monday night after his team slipped to 1-2 in the standings.
With 25 seconds left in regulation, Bede missed a convert attempt that would have tied the game as the Argos fell to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-22 at BMO Field.
But the Argos pivot pointed to his two interceptions and some other turnovers that led to 17 of Winnipeg’s 23 points.
“It drives us crazy,” Bethel-Thompson said. “It’s been three weeks now and we haven’t seen the real Argos.”
The unbeaten Blue Bombers are the first team in the CFL to reach four wins this season.
“We did enough,” Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said. “That’s what matters.”
Bethel-Thompson overcame a disastrous first half for the Argos to throw for 314 yards. He completed 27 of 37 passing attempts and had two interceptions.
Argos running back Andrew Harris was playing in his first game against the team he helped win consecutive Grey Cups in 2019 and 2021. He was Toronto’s leading rusher with 111 yards on 22 carries.
“When it mattered, we came together,” Harris said. “That’s the best team in the league, unfortunately we lost, but we got some positives once we started playing.”
Winnipeg’s defence opened the scoring on Toronto’s first possession after the game.
While deep in their own territory, Bethel-Thompson’s intended pass to Brandon Banks was picked off by Winnipeg’s Winston Rose for a 46-yard touchdown interception return. Kicker Marc Liegghio converted the extra point that gave Winnipeg a 7-0 lead.
Bethel-Thompson was picked off for a second time in the opening quarter after a bobbled snap led to a rushed throw. That set Winnipeg up with short field position. On the ensuing possession, Winnipeg pivot Zach Collaros connected with Drew Wolitarsky on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Liegghio’s convert put the Bombers up 14-0.
Toronto’s pivot managed just 18 yards of offence in the first quarter.
Winnipeg opened the second quarter with a 15-yard field goal that put the Bombers up 17-0.
Toronto appeared set to get their first points of the game after moving the ball down to Winnipeg’s 29-yard line. They found themselves in a third-and-one situation and decided to go for it but turned the ball over on downs. Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie challenged the spot of the ball after his team’s failed attempt but the spot was upheld by the CFL’s command centre.
The Argos recorded their first points of the game late in the first half. Bede connected on a 52-yard field goal that cut Winnipeg’s lead to 17-3.
Collaros was effective for Winnipeg in the opening half, completing 15 of 17 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown. He also had an interception, but it came in a desperate attempt to add points as time was winding down.
Toronto got off to a much better start in the second half and had a bit of luck to go with it. Bethel-Thompson’s pass in the end zone appeared set to be his third interception of the game. The ball went right to the hands of defensive back Demerio Houston. But Banks managed to strip the ball from Houston’s hands while in the end zone for Toronto’s first touchdown of the game. Bede’s convert trimmed Winnipeg’s lead to 17-10 in the third quarter.
Late in the third, Toronto was on the Winnipeg 10-yard line with a chance to tie the game, but Bethel-Thompson’s completed pass to Banks was fumbled. Malcolm Thompson picked up the ball and lateralled the ball to Nick Taylor who ran the ball up to midfield.
Liegghio connected on a 20-yard field goal on the ensuing possession and put Winnipeg up 20-10 in the fourth quarter.
After the change of possession, tensions began to rise on the Argos sidelines. Banks and offensive lineman Trevon Tate had to be separated by teammates. Toronto general manager Pinball Clemons, who wasn’t on the sidelines to start the game, went down to the field to play peacemaker. Clemons returned to his seat after issues on the sidelines appeared to be under control.
“I’ve got to sit down and talk to those guys, we’ve got to get more disciplined and grow up and be men and find ways to fight through the frustration,” Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. “We can’t act like that. It looks like Junior College.”
Bede hit his second field goal of the game on Toronto’s next possession to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 20-13. Later in the fourth, Bede connected on a 39-yard field goal to bring Toronto to within four points, 20-16.
Liegghio responded with another field goal to put Winnipeg ahead 23-16 with 1:38 to go in regulation time.
On the ensuing possession for Toronto, Bethel-Thompson engineered one of his better drives of the game. He found Markeith Ambles for a four-yard TD pass to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 23-22, but Bede missed on the point-after attempt to spoil the comeback.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022
Blue Jays continue grieving with Budzinski family amid non-stop baseball schedule – Sportsnet.ca
OAKLAND, Calif. — During the third inning Saturday evening, Cavan Biggio hit a single, arrived at first base and found Luis Hurtado coaching there instead of Mark Budzinski. What’s going on, he asked?
Not everyone knew yet at that point, but a couple of innings later word that Budzinski’s 17-year-old daughter Julia had died in a boating accident reached him and others, instant shock and heartache right along with it.
“I’m going up for my third at-bat and it was a meaningless at-bat, it felt like. I’d never had that feeling before in my life,” Biggio recalled. “It’s a big-league game, playing against a great team and not really a whole lot of baseball went through my head at that point. Definitely something like that offers a little perspective and makes you look back into your corner. My mind and heart immediately went to Mark and his family.”
Compartmentalizing the sorrow and anguish was nearly impossible for the Toronto Blue Jays in finishing out that 11-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday and it wasn’t any easier Sunday or Monday, when they opened a series against the Oakland Athletics with a listless 5-1 loss.
Baseball doesn’t stop, which can make playing games a needed escape from reality or coming to terms with the incomprehensible even harder. Charlie Montoyo learned that the hard way back when his son Alex was in hospital fighting for his life and he scrambled from Durham Bulls games to be by his side.
Some of that hit Montoyo when he learned of Julia’s death and prompted him to hand the reins over to bench coach John Schneider so he could help care for Budzinksi in the clubhouse.
“That’s what I felt the other day when I had to tell Mark to go inside so he can find out the news,” said Montoyo. “I said, ‘OK, I’m done with that game, it’s more important to be with my friend.’”
Two Sundays earlier, the Montoyo and Budzinski families had been together for morning Mass at the dome and, “Julia was actually hanging with Alex the whole day,” said Montoyo, who added the strength of Budzinski’s belief was apparent immediately after.
“Some people can say that, but then to see it when something like that happens, he is (a man of faith),” said Montoyo. “He is strong in the way how he dealt with it and writing a note to the team going through that, about keeping it going and I’ll see you soon and all that stuff, that’s unbelievable.”
The Blue Jays discussed not playing Sunday, when Montoyo said “you could tell everybody felt it,” while Monday, there were fresh reminders of the loss, as the Athletics honoured Julia with a moment of silence while the Blue Jays had her initials, JB, inscribed on their caps.
There wasn’t much energy for them, either, especially after Manoah allowed three runs in the first, one on a Stephen Vogt sacrifice fly and two more on an Elvis Andrus double just past a diving Matt Chapman at third base.
Alejandro Kirk’s RBI single in the fourth hinted at a rally, but solo shots by Ramon Laureano in the fifth and Vogt leading off the sixth pushed the game out of reach before an announced American Independence Day attendance of 24,403.
The loss was their fourth straight and third since learning of Julia’s death.
“I don’t want to make that an excuse, but we do feel it, of course, because we’re human beings and we’re a team and we care for Bud,” said Montoyo. “We do feel it. But today was more of our approach at the plate, I think.”
The five runs (four earned) against Manoah were a season-high on a night his average fastball velocity of 92.4 m.p.h. was noticeably off his season mark of 94. He didn’t have much to say about an outing he planned “to throw in the trash can, forget about and keep going,” and wasn’t sure how the recent gloom impacted the team’s play.
“Me personally, just tried to come out and give the team a spark and I wasn’t able to do that,” he said. “So on to tomorrow, bring some energy to the dugout and get this thing rolling.”
There’s no choice there because the schedule keeps running.
Biggio remembers sensing “an aura around our dugout and our clubhouse” that he described as “just heavy,” and the way “all of our minds and our hearts were immediately away from that game we were playing.”
Though Budzinksi’s role is as first base coach and his duties include working with the outfielders, he impacts players across the roster. Biggio takes extra flyballs with him as part of playing all around the diamond defensively and praised him for his preparedness and dedication to his players.
“He’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet in this game,” said Biggio. “He’s always positive and to be that positive all the time in this game, when it’s so easy to be negative, says something about the type of person he is.”
That’s the type of person others want to care for, especially in a time of immense grief like the one he and the Blue Jays are living through right now.
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