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Oilers ride confident, dominant play during homestand right into playoff spot – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — In the smaller picture, five wins in a five-game homestand — no matter who the schedule-maker puts in front of you — probably deserves a pat on the back and a cold beer.

The Edmonton Oilers began this homestand on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Ten points later, after a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon, they find themselves five points clear of Dallas — the third wild-card team — and within two points of L.A. for second place in the Pacific, with two games in hand on the Kings.

You’ve got to admit, Edmonton was tested in a myriad of ways in this homestand: Washington scores with two seconds to play to force overtime; mighty Tampa comes in as the two-time defending champs; Detroit erased a 3-0 deficit and tied the game at five in the third period; and New Jersey scores twice in the third to take a 3-2 lead with 16:45 to play.

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But every time failure knocked, Edmonton managed instead to succeed.

It wasn’t long ago we referenced this club a fragile. But lately, whomever the opponent, it has been quite the opposite.

“We come out in the third period knowing what we need to do, but they get a couple of bounces and take the lead,” said Evander Kane, after another two-goal night for 12 tucks in 23 games. “We stick with our game plan, we get pucks to the net. We turn up the heat a little bit, stay with it, and we’re able to respond.”

Why now? And not a month ago?

“I think it’s just believing,” said Kane, whose plan to come to Edmonton and beef up his value before July 1 has been working brilliantly, becoming a fixture on Connor McDavid’s left wing. “We can score goals, we know that. It’s just about playing a certain way, having the right attitude and staying with that attitude no matter how bounces go in a game.

“I see great potential in this team, that’s why I came here,” he said. “I think you’re starting to see what it can look like. As we continue to grow our game and become even tighter as a team in the way we play, I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

The small, quick Devils gave Edmonton fits at times Saturday. New Jersey doesn’t pin you in your zone for long stretches, but they’re a fast-break team that can kill you with odd-man rushes.

Alas, Mikko Koskinen was the difference. He made a ton of good saves on a loose night for the Oilers structurally, while former Calgary Flame Jon Gillies folded up at the other end — much to the chagrin of Devils head coach Lindy Ruff.

After New Jersey took a 3-2 lead in Period 3, Gillies surrendered a weak goal from the bottom of the circle by Tyson Barrie. Edmonton never looked back after that, scoring three more times to coast to the finish line.

“That goal from the goal line, the bad angle from Barrie, a terrible goal,” spat Ruff. “That gave them some life. We were doing all the right things. You give up a shot from there, 99 out of 100 times you’re getting a save.”

Poor Lindy. His team had a shot at a win here, but it was the Oilers who found a way instead.

“Our goalie had a tough night,” Ruff complained. “You can look at the first goal, you can look at the second goal. … It’s a team we wanted to limit opportunities, high-rush opportunities, and I thought the momentum changed when all of a sudden, that tough goal goes in.”

It’s a bit ironic that, not so long ago, Dave Tippett was issuing quotes like those about Koskinen. Now, the Three Metres of Koskinen has seized the starter’s job in Edmonton, and given the Oilers enough goaltending to contend for second place in the Pacific.

In return, he’s getting run support. The Oilers scored six goals in three straight games for the first time since 1993, and while getting the first goal of the game was a major issue earlier this season, they have now scored first in nine of Woodcroft’s 18 games.

The Oilers are 21-0 when scoring first this season.

“It’s remarkable,” marvelled Woodcroft. “When our staff came about a month ago, we put a premium on starting well. We talk a lot about early urgency — wanting to sink our teeth into the other team immediately. And putting a little bit of onus on personal responsibility for players to find their game within the team right off the bat.”

McDavid tied a career high with a goal in his fifth straight game, an empty-netter. It capped a night where a fragile team might have lost, but the Oilers — again — found a way not to.

“That comes with a little bit of confidence,” Leon Draisaitl said. “When you get a couple of wins going, get a little streak going, you know that you can come back from a bad shift or getting scored on.

“I think we are growing in that area of the game and it makes us a better hockey team.”

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Marner shows off custom All-Star Game skates at Maple Leafs practice – NHL.com

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Mitchell Marner is going to be skating on sunshine.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward has some custom skates with a distinct Florida feel for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at FLA Live Arena on Saturday.

Marner, who will play for the Atlantic Divison team on Saturday, helped dream up the design, which is a beach theme over a pastel pink boot. On each tongue is the All-Star Game logo and inside each boot is the Eastern Conference logo.

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Marner’s big customization? Adding his dog, Zeus, to the mix.

“(Zeus) riding a croc, one riding a shark and then just the city outlines,” Marner said. “The white look I think looks sick though. That’s just kind of the idea of them. I wanted to do something cool for the All Star game, don’t really get to customize a lot of stuff as hockey players.”

The True brand skates were on display at Maple Leafs practice on Tuesday. Were they a hit? Well, it depends on who you ask.

“A couple guys said it was pretty juicy looking, a couple guys were chirping me but that’s what usually happens with our team,” Marner said. “I think everyone probably likes them but they’re never going to say it to your face because it’s better just to make fun of you and chirp you. That’s how this team rolls.”

While he won’t be wearing them for a regular season game, trying them out at practice was a must, but did come with it’s challenges.

“(Alexander Kerfoot) and (Justin Holl) were trying to get some scuff marks on them early,” Marner said. “It’s going to happen eventually but I’ll try to keep them as white as possible until Saturday or Friday.”

– NHL.com Independent Correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report.

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Former captain Horvat, family pen letter to ‘Our Canucks family’ after trade to New York – Global News

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Former Canucks Captain Bo Horvat has written a letter thanking fans after nine seasons spent in Vancouver.

Horvat was dealt to the New York Islanders Monday afternoon for two players and a protected first-round draft pick, after months of contract negotiations proved unfruitful.

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“To our Canucks family. The past 24 hours have been filled with an overwhelming number of memories from inside and outside of the rink,” reads the statement in part, posted to Instagram on Tuesday.

“Nine years ago you welcomed us to your beautiful city and province, and before long, you would make sure it felt like home.”

Read more:

Vancouver Canucks deal Horvat to New York Islanders for two players, first round pick

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Coming to Vancouver as a 19-year-old and leaving as a 27-year-old father of two, one of the many highlights for Horvat was getting a chance to play alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“I remember meeting Daniel and Henrik that first year. Through them you could immediately feel the history, and the connection the team had with fans and the community… the respect everyone had for what it meant ‘to be a Canuck,’” he said.

“I was only 19, but I knew I was a part of a special place in the hockey world. I remember being determined to work hard, keep getting better and always bring my best effort.”

He also took time to thank his teammates, coaches, trainers and members of the organization along with the many people behind the scenes.

“To have been your captain, was a tremendous honour for us…It was beyond the wildest dreams of that 19-year-old who just wanted to fit in and earn your respect one day at a time.”

“The city of Vancouver and Canucks fans will always have a place in our hearts. Thank you.”


Click to play video: 'Vancouver Canucks trade Bo Horvat'

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Vancouver Canucks trade Bo Horvat


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Tom Brady retires from NFL, insisting this time it's for good – CBC Sports

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Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement.

Brady — the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and one of the greatest athletes in team sports — posted the announcement on social media Wednesday morning, a brief video lasting just under one minute.

“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady says as the message begins. “I’m retiring. For good.”

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He briefly retired after the 2021 season, but wound up coming back for one more year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retires at age 45, the owner of numerous passing records in an unprecedented 23-year career.

A year ago when he retired, it was in the form of a long Instagram post. But about six weeks later, he decided to come back for one more run. The Buccaneers — with whom he won a Super Bowl two seasons ago — made the playoffs again this season, losing in their playoff opener. And at the time, it begged the question about whether Brady would play again.

Only a couple weeks later, he has given the answer.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady says in the video. “I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year.

“I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me. My family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

Brady is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). He’s the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times.

Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady certainly wasn’t expected to become synonymous with greatness. He played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for six yards.

The next year, it all changed.

Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the team beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season, and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful coach-QB duo in football history.

More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.

In 2020, he joined the Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl. He spent his last three years with Tampa Bay, getting them to the playoffs in each of those seasons.

3-time NFL MVP

“I think I’ve been on the record dozens of times saying there’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way,” Belichick said in 2021 — shortly before Tampa Bay, with Brady, came to New England and beat the Patriots in a game dubbed “The Return.” “I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for.”

Brady has won three NFL MVP awards, been a first-team All-Pro three times and selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times.

Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen finalized their divorce this past fall, during the Bucs’ season. It ended a 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of football and fashion.

It was announced last year that when Brady retires from playing, he would join Fox Sports as a television analyst in a 10-year, $375 million US deal.

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