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Oilers’ playoff hopes hinge on Mike Smith finding his game after Game 1 stinker –



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.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks



The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade seeing goaltender Casey DeSmith going the other way.

A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.

Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.

Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.


In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.

The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.

DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.

In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.

DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

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Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags



The Mike Babcock hiring has been a disaster from the beginning. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.

“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.


“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”

Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.

But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.

Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.

“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.

To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.

Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.

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But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.

Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.

On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.

By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.

Babcock’s quick and swift dismissal comes as no surprise given his spotty reputation of being an emotionally abusive coach during his days with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.



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