It’s the little things that decide games like the one played in St. Louis Wednesday night. Little things like a missed check, or a late goal post.
Dull, tiny details, like getting pucks deep, hustling to the bench for a change instead of gliding, or bearing down on your check, instead of simply skating along behind him. St. Louis is a better team than Edmonton and they mostly dominated this game, but in the dying moments there were the Oilers, on a power play, the goalie pulled, and all over the Blues with a chance to grab at least one point.
So how, after all of that, do you lose 2-1 in St. Louis? Failure to get two pucks deep into the Blues zone, that both went the other way and behind Mikko Koskinen. A slow change on a Brayden Schenn breakaway goal, and a not-quite-good-enough checking job by Connor McDavid on MacKenzie MacEachern’s 2-0 goal. A late post by Leon Draisaitl.
Details. The Blues were that little bit better at them, and when this Blues team buckles down like they did Wednesday, they are awfully tough to beat. Just a little bit too much for the Oilers on the scoreboard, but a lot more than that to the naked eye.
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Koskinen continues to be Oilers best player
We all wondered how long head coach Dave Tippett could stick with his two-on, two-off goaltending system, where Koskinen and Mike Smith took turns playing a pair, with neither grabbing the reins and becoming the No. 1.
Well, perhaps we are there.
For the second straight game, Koskinen was Edmonton’s best player, stopping 42 of 44 shots against the Blues. On Monday in Dallas, Koskinen stole a 2-1 win when he stopped all but one of the Stars’ 35 shots on net.
That’s 76 of 79 saves in the past two games, and it’s a certainty that Koskinen will get one of two games at home this Friday and Saturday, against Pittsburgh and Montreal.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.
“Koskinen was excellent,” head coach Dave Tippett told reporters in St. Louis. “He kept us in the game. It’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to manufacture a little more offence.
“When the goaltender is that good you’d like to do a little more in front of him,” said Tippett, who thought his team’s game could have been better. “We need to make a few more plays, get up the ice cleaner get ourselves up the ice with some speed.”
Mike Smith may get the Pittsburgh game, considering his finest effort this season came in Pittsburgh, where he stopped 51 shots in a 2-1 overtime win. But his saves percentage stands at .896 compared to .919 for Koskinen. If this weekend’s back-to-back at home sees more separation between the two, you may see Koskinen start the three remaining games in the rest of December, against Vancouver, Calgary and the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve.
Blues coach Craig Berube had the toughest of calls, whether to challenge the Oilers goal at 18:10 of the third period for goaltender interference, knowing that if he was wrong the Oilers would finish the game on the power play. He challenged and lost, and Edmonton very nearly tied the game. “It’s always risky,” he told reporters post-game. “ It’s tough, I don’t know — the rules kind of vary all the time. I’m not going to talk about that. There’s nothing to say. It is always tough (to make that decision), but you keep it 2-0. Whatever, our guys killed it off. It’s good.” … Adam Larsson took a puck to the mouth, then came back to block a sure goal with the score still 1-0. It was, he said afterwards, “a great hockey match.” … The final shots on goal were 44-36 for St. Louis, but the Oilers peppered Jake Allen late as they tried to come back. The Oilers had 18 shots in the first 40 minutes, and 18 in the final 20 … Edmonton’s powerplay went 0-for-5, a rare night when it let the team down. It was the first time in nine games it failed to convert … Draisaitl had eight shots on net, whistling off the post with 19 seconds to play.
Edmonton hosts Pittsburgh on Friday, then the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Edmonton has lost five of its past six games.
Jays lose to Orioles, setting up first-round date with Rays – Toronto Sun
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In gambling parlance, the Jays believe they are live long shots based on a no-fear attitude and a potentially deep and explosive offence. As well, Montoyo is well-versed with the Rays, where he served as a third-base and bench coach under manager Kevin Cash.
“I think we’re a pretty scary team,” said Cavan Biggio, the Jays leadoff hitter. “We’ve seen what we can do with the bats. It’s hard to put us out of games, especially with the way we can score runs.
“We’re going in as the eight seed and I think not many teams are going to want to face us, just with the edge we play and the offence. It’s going to be exciting.”
With the season done and the matchup set, general manager Ross Atkins and Montoyo will piece together the 28-man post-season roster that has to be submitted by 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
After Sunday’s game, Montoyo said he intends to announce his rotation following a scheduled workout day in St. Pete on Monday.
On the pitching side, matchups will likely enter the equation of greatest intrigue.
Montoyo has been deliberately evasive on his plans but it is expected that Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tajuan Walker will handle the starting duties in the first two games. That order could be flip-flopped, however, given that Ryu has often preferred five-days rest and was feeling sore the day after throwing a season-high 100 pitches in Thursday’s post-season clinching win over the Yankees.
The Jays don’t seem overly worried about the range of possibilities, however. And that includes a possible Game 3 (if necessary) combination of Robbie Ray and Matt Shoemaker.
What’s at stake on final day of MLB regular season – Sportsnet.ca
Four teams, two National League playoff spots.
And the AL Central champion.
Besides post-season seeding, that’s what remains to be decided on the last scheduled day of this bizarre baseball season. It could all come down to the wire at once in a wild rush, too, with every meaningful game Sunday starting just after 3 p.m. EDT.
“If you said that to me before the season started or on opening day, I would probably look right at you very honestly and say, `I would not be surprised if this season came down to the very last game.’ And that’s what we get,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Christian Yelich and the Brewers control their own fate. So do Yadier Molina and the Cardinals. The winner of their matchup Sunday in St. Louis punches a post-season ticket. Brett Anderson (4-3) pitches for Milwaukee against Austin Gomber (1-1).
San Francisco is still breathing, but needs help. Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies need even more.
One more chance to play in October as part of a playoff field expanded to 16 teams this year following a rocky regular season reduced to 60 games because of the coronavirus.
“It’s frustrating because you see the team that you have around you and you know we should be there — we should easily be there,” Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen said Saturday night after a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay left Philadelphia on the brink of elimination. “To be on the outside looking in right now, it can be frustrating at times.”
The Phillies (28-31) got a reprieve hours later, staying in the race when San Francisco lost to San Diego. They need a win Sunday over the Rays and losses by the Giants and Brewers to land their first playoff berth in nine years.
San Francisco (29-30) needs a victory over the visiting Padres and a Brewers loss. The Cardinals (29-28) make it with a win or a Giants loss. Milwaukee (29-30) is in with a win or losses by the Giants and Phillies.
“We just have to keep our head up and try to win,” San Francisco pitcher Johnny Cueto said.
Over in the American League, all eight teams are set. All that’s left to be determined is seeding — and first place in the Central.
Minnesota has a one-game lead and can lock up its second consecutive division crown — and the No. 2 seed in the AL — with a win at home against Cincinnati or a White Sox loss at home to the Cubs.
“I look at that 2019 banner a lot up there at the stadium, so it’d be nice to put another one up there,” Twins reliever Taylor Rogers said.
If the teams finish tied, Chicago wins the division because it holds the tiebreaker over the Twins.
“It would mean a lot for all of us that have been here for the last couple of years,” White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada said through a translator. “It would be a really good starting point for us for the next season because we would have that foundation there.”
AL East champion Tampa Bay has clinched the league’s top seed. Oakland won the AL West and will also play a best-of-three first-round series at home beginning Tuesday — possibly against rival Houston.
Even without winning the Central, Minnesota is assured of playing at home, where the Twins are a major league-best 24-6. Cleveland can earn home-field advantage with a win over last-place Pittsburgh and a White Sox loss.
The Yankees and Blue Jays are also in, but headed out on the road.
Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central crown Saturday night even while losing to the crosstown White Sox. So the third-seeded Cubs will open at home Wednesday just like the other National League division winners, top-seeded Los Angeles and No. 2 seed Atlanta.
“This one feels good,” Rizzo said.
San Diego will be the No. 4 seed. Cincinnati and surprising Miami have also secured spots, though their seeds are still to be determined.
Houston (29-30), Milwaukee (29-30) or Philadelphia (28-31) could become the first team in major league history to qualify for the post-season with a losing record.
The Astros, who close their season at Texas, have already clinched their fourth straight playoff appearance. That means first-year manager Dusty Baker will take his fifth different franchise to the post-season in that role.
And there’s also a possibility the regular season could extend to Monday.
If the Cardinals lose Sunday and San Francisco wins, St. Louis must head to Detroit for a doubleheader Monday to make up two games postponed by the Cardinals’ coronavirus outbreak this summer.
Makeup games to settle the playoff race. Certainly would be a fitting way to finish the 2020 season.
UFC 253 results: Matches to make for ‘Adesanya vs Costa’ main card winners – MMA Mania
UFC 253 went down last night (Sat., Sept 26, 2020) inside Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In the main event of the event, Israel Adesanya retained his Middleweight title after defeating Paulo Costa, knocking him out in round two (see it again here). In the co-headlining act, Jan Blachowicz became UFC’s newest Light Heavyweight champion after he flattened Dominick Reyes with some accurate striking, also in round two (video replay).
Winner: Israel Adesanya
Who He Should Fight Next: Jared Cannonier
After “The Last Stylebender” took out Paulo Costa, he took the opportunity to call for his next fight, a rarity when you’re the champion. Indeed, Adesanya stated that if Jared Cannonier gets through Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Oct. 24, 2020, also on “Fight Island,” he will gladly grant him the next title shot. Should “Gorilla” come up short, there is no telling if Israel would grant Whittaker a rematch. If the champ wants it, there really is no reason not to give it to him.
Winner: Jan Blachowicz
Who He Should Fight Next: Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira winner
Jon Jones teased that he could very well could take a quick trip back to 205 pounds in order to reclaim his title after vacating it earlier this year, which gave Jan and Dominick Reyes to become new champion. But I highly doubt UFC would go for that, as Jones is preparing for his move to Heavyweight. That being said, the winner of Teixeira vs Santos — which is set to go down on Nov 7, 2020 — should get first crack at dethroning Blachowicz. Santos already has a knockout win over him, so a rematch would be highly-intriguing. A fight against Teixeira offers up a great battle, as both men posses dangerous knockout power.
Winner: Brandon Royval
Who He Should Fight Next: Alexandre Pantoja
Royval stated after the fight that he hesitated to call out a high-ranked foe, but he is simply being too hard on himself, as he had a great win over Kai Kara France. A fight against Pantoja seems fitting at the moment since the No.5 ranked fighter is coming off a tough loss to Askar Askarov. Prior to that, he was making huge strides toward a shot at the title. Pantoja has the experience edge that could let us know just where Royval fits in the division, though his first two wins over Tim Elliott and Askarov already gave us a pretty good idea.
Winner: Ketlen Vieira
Who She Should Face Next: Raquel Pennington
A match up between Vieira and Pennington seems like a fitting one since both ladies got back in the win column in their previous outing. Vieira defeated Sijara Eubanks in Abu Dhabi, while “Rocky” took out Marion Reneau. Prior to that, Vieira was defeated by Irene Aldana, and Pennington by Holm, two ladies who will collide next week on “Fight Island.” The title shot in the women’s Bantamweight division is there for the taking and a few impressive wins for anyone in the Top 5 can get them there sooner, rather than later.
Winner: Hakeem Dawodu
Who He Should Fight Next: Bryce Mitchell vs Andre Fili winner
Dawodu picked up a huge win over Zubaira Tukhugov in Abu Dhabi, bringing his win streak to five in a row. Up next for “Mean” should be a fight against the winner of Mitchell vs Fili. Dawodu has done enough to possibly sneak into the Top 15, especially after his most recent win. But if he doesn’t get there, then perhaps a win over Mitchell or Fili will do the trick. Fili is one of the most seasoned veterans at 145 pounds, though he is also in search of a spot in the Top 15. Mitchell, meanwhile, just got there and he’ll fight like hell to stay there.
For complete UFC 253 results and coverage click here.
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