EDMONTON — How perfect were the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday?
“They played such a good game; they were so solid everywhere,” said Connor McDavid, when asked on Monday how his team managed not to get even a single powerplay for the first time all season. “They were never in a desperate situation where they needed to hook or hold a guy. Part of that is us not going hard enough to the net or making enough plays. Another part is them just playing so well and being in the right position all of the time.
“Kind of weird to not get a powerplay. But you’ve got to give a lot of the credit to them. They did a lot of things right.”
On Monday, the Leafs will go down their goaltending ladder a spot, while Edmonton starts Mikko Koskinen, part of a 50-50 situation in the Oilers goal.
Leafs-Oilers, Round 2. Here’s what you need to know:
A change on the blue line
The issue here for Dave Tippett is, Russell is a penalty killer, and one of three left-shot defencemen. Bouchard does not kill penalties, and his presence makes four right-shot D-men in Edmonton’s lineup.
Judging by what we saw at the morning skate Monday, the 21-year-old Bouchard will play the left side next to Ethan Bear.
“Bouch has practised on the left side and played some left side in junior. He’s a guy that we’ve kind of earmarked (as a guy) who can go over there,” said Tippett, who is cognisant of asking a young player to play his off side. “He’s comfortable with it. If he wasn’t comfortable with it, it would be a tougher decision.”
Here are your Oilers lines and pairings Monday:
Nugent-Hopkins, McDavid, Puljujarvi
Kahun, Draisaitl, Yamamoto
Ennis, Khaira, Archibald
Chiasson, Haas, P.Russell
Two questions for Leafs
As for Toronto, there are two burning issues here: Will Auston Mathews play? And who starts in goal?
While head coach Sheldon Keefe called it “a game-time decision” we suspect no for Matthews, who practiced long after the regulars had left the morning skate on Monday. As for the goalie, Michael Hutchinson spent the practice in the starter’s net, while Campbell did not practice on Sunday or Monday.
We know that coaches don’t like to change a winning lineup, but Keefe would make an exception where Mathews is concerned, no doubt.
“I think we would always find room for Auston,” said Keefe.
Like every NHL coach, he’s had to take a new look at roster management this season, with a lot of games in a short period, and a super-sized roster full of guys who want to play.
“No matter how you play as a team you’re always evaluating what’s happening,” Keefe said. “We’ve shown throughout the season we want to utilize our depth and keep people involved with our group. I don’t think, especially with injuries and such that we’ve ever ruled anybody out to being in the mix and we have to continue to balance that. Certainly, when you come off a good game and you’re feeling good, you want to give the group another opportunity to go.”
Here is how we suspect the Leafs will line up Monday:
Thornton, Tavares, Marner
Barbanov, Kerfoot, Nylander
Hyman, Engvall, Mikheyev
Petan, Boyd, Spezza
Can Leafs silence McDavid again?
The Leafs held Connor McDavid to zero points on a minus-three night for the Oilers captain on Saturday. What are the chances they handle the Oilers as easily tonight?
“I think we’ve been all right in games where we’re coming off of losses,” said McDavid, whose Oilers are 6-2 in the next game after a loss this season.
The Maple Leafs are ready for a renewed effort from a Edmonton team that fell to six points behind Toronto in the North, and doesn’t want to let them get away.
“They’re going to come back hard,” Zach Hyman said. “I think this whole season series we’ve had against them has been back and forth. They’re going to come out with their best and we’re going to be ready for that. It’ll be a really good game.”
Truly, the season series now sits at 3-2 for Toronto, with the teams splitting games in Toronto, then again in Edmonton, before opening this three-game set on Saturday.
Toronto made it hard on McDavid to find his trademark speed through the neutral zone Saturday, playing the middle of the ice to perfection. He knows what the solution is, and we would predict a more concerted effort from No. 97 tonight.
“Just continuing to fight through some of those checks. Continuing to skate puts guys on their heels,” McDavid said. “And when things aren’t going to happen through the middle you put pucks in and try to get ‘em back, and start rolling around in the offensive zone.
“It’s nothing new from what I’ve faced. I have to be better, I guess.”
Said Tippett: “There are situations in the game that dictate. When you’re on transition, you get openings. If you’re facing real tight structure, you have to read and react. That’s part of the game.”
More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing
In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:
Sports TV of note from Weds:
AEW Dynamite on TNT: 1.148 million viewers
Primetime Oly programming on NBCSN: 773,000
PTI on ESPN: 648,000 viewers
NHL Expansion Draft on ESPN2: 637,000 viewers
Cubs-Cardinals on ESPN: 509,000 viewers
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 22, 2021
On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.
And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).
If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.
That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).
In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.
[John Ourand on Twitter]
Cleveland changes MLB team nickname to Guardians after months of discussion – CBC.ca
Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.
The ball club announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names that are considered racist.
Together, we are all… <a href=”https://t.co/R5FnT4kv1I”>pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I</a>
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.
The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.
Social unrest spurred name change
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.
Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before Cleveland hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us.”
In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.
The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.
But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.
Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices — referred to as guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
The team’s colours will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.
The change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its name before the 2020 season and said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.
LIVE BLOG: Opening ceremony kicks off 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – Global News
The Olympic Games opening ceremony is typically a chance for competing countries and athletes to show off their pride and culture, but this year will be a little different.
Normally held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will have international athletes parade around a near-empty venue after it was announced fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.
Athletes from around the world, including Canada, are taking part in the ceremony for the Summer Games, which will run until Aug. 8.
Canada has sent 370 athletes to the Olympics, the nation’s largest delegation since 1984.
Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games
But only 30 to 40 athletes are marching into the Olympic Stadium, the Canadian Olympic Committee has previously said, saying athletes aren’t allowed into the Olympic Village until five days before they compete.
Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to join flagbearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.
The ceremony’s theme is “United by Emotion,” as officials are aspiring to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, express gratitude and admiration for the efforts made over the past year, and also bring a sense of hope for the future, the Olympics website says.
Despite all the difficulties the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games amid a global pandemic, president Thomas Bach previously said he believes the ceremonies will be a moment of “joy and relief.”
The event runs from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET
You can follow along here.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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