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Oshie hoping to represent Capitals at All-Star Game –



WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie has vacation plans, but the Washington Capitals forward wouldn’t hesitate to change them to play in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25.

Oshie is Washington’s candidate on the ballot for the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas fan vote and hopes to be added to the Metropolitan Division roster for what would be the 33-year-old’s first All-Star Game appearance.  

Oshie bolstered his case by scoring twice in a 6-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. He is tied with Jakub Vrana for second on the Capitals with 18 goals heading into their “Wednesday Night Hockey” game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBSCN).

[RELATED: Complete NHL All-Star Coverage]

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Oshie said of the Last Men In vote. “Obviously, the break is always nice. But for a guy like me that’s never been to an All-Star Game, it probably would feel a little more special than some of the other guys that have been either every year of their career or guys that have been a couple times. But it’s pretty good. If I get in, great. If not, my vacation is already planned.”

Each of the 31 NHL teams has a representative in the Last Men In voting, which closes Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans can vote at or on a mobile interactive ballot on the NHL app.

The player with the most votes from each of the four divisions will be added to the All-Star Game rosters that were announced Dec. 30.

If Oshie wins the vote for the Metropolitan Division spot, he’d join defenseman John Carlson, goalie Braden Holtby and coach Todd Reirden representing the Capitals in St. Louis. 

“T.J., he does so much for us,” Reirden said. “Just playing a few nights ago when he was really sick, the leadership he has in our room, the energy he brings, plays in all situations, I would certainly like to have him in the All-Star Game with me.”

Video: OTT@WSH: Oshie adjusts, strikes quickly from the slot

Playing in his first All-Star Game in St. Louis would have additional meaning for Oshie because he began his NHL career there. The St. Louis Blues selected Oshie with the No. 24 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft and he played seven seasons for them before being traded to the Capitals on July 2, 2015.

Oshie has fit in well and become a leader with Washington, which signed him to an eight-year, $46 million contract June 23, 2017. He scored at least 25 goals in three of his first four seasons with the Capitals, including an NHL career-high 33 in 2016-17, and helped them win their first championship in 2018, when he had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

But St. Louis continues to be a special place for Oshie and he was happy to see the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time last season.

“Obviously, I’ve got a little history there and it would be great to get back there and see the fans,” Oshie said. “So there would be a little bit more meaning behind (playing in the All-Star Game) because it’s in St. Louis instead of somewhere else.”

Since joining the Capitals, Oshie has scored 120 goals, second behind Alex Ovechkin‘s 209. With 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games, he’s on pace for 62 points (61.5), which would surpass his NHL career-high of 60 with the Blues in 2013-14.

Video: SJS@WSH: Oshie nets game-tying goal from circle late

Oshie’s seven power-play goals are second on the Capitals behind Ovechkin’s nine. He’s scored three of Washington’s NHL-leading seven 6-on-5 goals, including the tying goal with 14.2 seconds left in the third period of a 5-4 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 5, and is the only player in the NHL this season to score more than twice at 6-on-5.

But he rates his play this season as “OK” so far.

“I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of little things right,” Oshie said. “I’d like to have more goals, obviously. I’d like to pitch in more on the power play when I get those looks and just in general. I think it’s just been OK. I think there’s another level I’ve got to get to before we hit the postseason here.”

Beyond his statistics, Oshie has become an important part of the Capitals’ leadership group and has taken Vrana, his 23-year-old linemate, under his wing this season. Vrana has scored 18 even-strength goals, tying him with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon for third-most in the NHL.

“I guess there’s maybe a little bit of a big brother thing going on,” Oshie said. “We just bonded a lot and we just have fun playing with each other.”

That bond helps when things aren’t going as well, too. When Vrana was mired in a 10-game goal drought Dec. 9-31, Oshie helped him keep from getting down on himself. Vrana ended his slump by scoring a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 3 and scored two more against San Jose.

“He’s such a positive guy,” Vrana said of Oshie. “He likes to have fun. He’s going out there and playing hockey and having fun, and I do the same thing. When you put two players like that together, you see the excitement, see the chemistry”

Understandably, Vrana would love to see Oshie be rewarded by going to his first All-Star Game.

“He deserves it,” Vrana said. “He’s a great teammate, a great player, works really hard and I think he has lots of skills that prove he should be there.”

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Motor racing-F1 drivers defend Netflix series after Verstappen snub



Leading Formula One drivers defended the popular Netflix “Drive to Survive” fly-on-the-wall series on Thursday after Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen said he was snubbing it because he felt some of the rivalries were “faked”.

The docu-series, now filming its fourth season, has been credited as a big factor in fuelling the sport’s growth in the United States.

 Dutch 24-year-old Verstappen earlier told the Associated Press that he recognised the importance of the series but did not like being a part of it and would not be giving any interviews.

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s title rival, told reporters at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, that he had noticed a surge in interest in the country.

“In this last couple of years it’s been the steepest rise and more and more people are talking about it, more and more people engaging,” he said.

“The amount of emails and messages I get from people I’ve known for years in the States and who never knew what I was doing and now are hooked and can’t wait to come. I think a lot of them are coming this weekend.”

Verstappen’s Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, a two-times race winner who featured heavily last season, said he respected what the documentary was doing.

“What it has done for Formula One is tremendous. It’s really something I appreciate,” he said.

“The way they sell the sport is a bit of a drama. It is a show but at the end of the day it is good for the sport and is good for the fans so I am happy with it.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris, voted the second-most popular driver after Verstappen in a fan survey published on Thursday, also appreciated the show.

“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I think it’s a cool thing. Coming to America there are so many people who are now into Formula One just because of watching ‘Drive to Survive.’ I think I come across on it alright.

“I think they do a good job. I can’t really speak on behalf of Max.”

His Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo agreed: “Most of us experience the effect it’s had on the sport. There’s certainly been a lot of growth and I honestly see that most in America.

“There’s times where you want a little bit of space or privacy but I do think if you let them know no cameras in this room they are pretty good with that.”


(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Valdez, Astros grab ALCS lead after dominant Game 5 win over Red Sox –



BOSTON — Framber Valdez lost his perfect game and then bounced the following pitch off the next batter’s leg.

Astros manager Dusty Baker decided it was time for a chat.

“That’s the time when you’ve really got to settle him down,” Baker said. “I said `Hey, you’re the best. Just be natural and do your thing.’ I didn’t say a whole bunch to him.”

It was enough to get Valdez through the inning — and more.

Perfect through four, the Houston left-hander took a two-hit shutout into the seventh and became the first pitcher this postseason to complete eight innings, leading the Astros over Boston 9-1 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Yordan Alvarez had three hits and three RBIs for Houston, which needs could clinch a second straight trip to the World Series with a victory at home on Friday night.

The Red Sox need a win to force a deciding seventh game on Saturday.

“We came back to Boston exactly where we wanted to be: We were 1-1,” Red Sox starter Chris Sale said. “Not in a good spot going back to Houston. There’s no denying that, but this team has won two games in the playoffs back-to-back before, and we think we can do it again.”

One day after the Astros scored seven runs to break a ninth-inning tie, they hung another crooked number on the Fenway Park scoreboard, chasing Sale while scoring five runs in the sixth. Alvarez, who homered in the second and singled in the fourth, had a two-run double to break things open.

That was plenty for Valdez, who extended the staff’s shutout streak to 14 straight innings before Rafael Devers homered with one out in the seventh — one of just three hits for Boston. The left-hander departed after retiring the Red Sox in order in the eighth.

“If a guy’s dealing, you just let him keep dealing,” Baker said. “Today, it was in the hands of Framber. Everybody talks about momentum, but momentum is controlled by the pitcher. If the pitcher’s dealing, all that momentum’s gone.”

In all, Valdez gave up one run on three hits, one walk and a hit batter, striking out five. He was also the first opposing pitcher to last eight innings in a postseason start at Fenway since Cleveland’s Charles Nagy went eight in the 1998 Division Series.

Ryne Stanek pitched a perfect ninth while the rest of Houston’s relievers rested. Astros starters had not lasted three innings all series, pitching to a 18.90 ERA in the first four games and giving up 10 homers — including a record three grand slams.

Valdez was not much better, allowing two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in Game 1.

“I didn’t get frustrated at all. I wasn’t down on myself,” Valdez said. “What I did was I decided I’m going to work really hard so that when I come out here for the next outing, I’m going to be as 100% ready as I can be, to demonstrate to my team what I’m capable of, to demonstrate to my team that I can come out here and compete with any team in the league.

“So I just worked the entire time and I had my mindset set that I was just going to come out and have a way better outing,” he said. “And that’s what I was able to do tonight.”

Valdez retired the first 12 batters on Wednesday — eight on grounders, four on strikeouts. Devers singled to lead off the fifth, then Valdez bounced the next pitch off J.D. Martinez’s leg. The Astros escaped when Hunter Renfroe grounded into a double play and Alex Verdugo bounced out to first.

Sale started almost as well, allowing just two hits — both to Alvarez — in his first five innings. But he walked Jose Altuve to start the sixth, then Michael Brantley nubbed one toward third. Devers fielded it and made the throw in time but Schwarber dropped it at first; after sliding into second, Altuve popped up and took off for third, which was uncovered.

Brantley moved up to second on a groundout to the pitcher, then Alvarez doubled to left, scoring two to make it 3-0 and chasing Sale. Ryan Brasier struck out Carlos Correa before giving up an RBI double to Yuli Gurriel and a two-run single to Jose Siri that made it 6-0.

Brantley added an RBI single in the seventh, and Gurriel singled in two more in the ninth.

Sale was charged with four runs — two earned — on three hits and two walks, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings.

“I was good for five, and then I sucked for one,” he said. “I told myself coming into this game I had a job to do; obviously didn’t get it done. But I left (it all) out there on that mound tonight, that’s for damn sure.”

The Red Sox had won seven straight postseason games at home — dating to the 2018 ALCS — before blowing an eighth-inning lead on Tuesday night. They had never lost back-to-back postseason games under manager Alex Cora.


Nathan Eovaldi, who won Game 2 but came on in relief and lost in Game 4, will start Friday for Boston. Baker said he had not decided on a starter.

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Nine thoughts from the Toronto Raptors season opening loss to the Washington Wizards – NBA CA



The Toronto Raptors couldn’t get over the line in their long-awaited return to Scotiabank Arena, going down to the Washington Wizards 98-83 in their season opener.

With plenty of new faces on the roster, the young Raptors trailed for most of the game and despite a late rally in the fourth quarter where they got it to within 10 points, their poor shooting caught up with them.

For more on this game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

1. Scottie Barnes is as advertised

The No.4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft was inserted into the starting lineup and made his presence felt from the jump.

The 20-year-old was aggressive looking for his shot as he attacked the rim, not settling for jumpers and while he only finished with one assist, his passing really stood out as he facilitated the offence for stretches at the elbow.

…Not to mention this skyhook!

He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal, and was tied with Fred VanVleet for the most field goals on the night, hitting 5-of-13.

It wsn’t all smooth sailing for the rookie, who had three turnovers and three fouls in the first half alone, but as the game wore on, he showed flashes of his elite potential

Until Pascal Siakam returns from injury, it will be interesting to see if Nick Nurse sticks with Barnes in the starting lineup.

2. Dalano Banton’s dazzling debut

The first-ever Canadian drafted by the Raptors entered the game with 25 seconds left in the third quarter to a big applause from the home crowd and he nearly blew the lid off the arena just seconds later.

With his first shot of the game, he connected on a half-court shot at the buzzer, that cut the deficit to 81-59 heading into the fourth.

In his 12 minutes on court, he recorded seven points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal on 3-of-4 from the field.

His one assist found a cutting Chris Boucher for an emphatic dunk.

“He was a big factor for the improved pace and the improved offence,” Nurse said of Banton post-game.

3. A cold shooting night

Through the first three quarters, the Raptors couldn’t buy a bucket as the Wizards led by as many as 29 points.

They eventually found a spark early in the fourth quarter with a big lineup of Banton, Barnes, Gary Trent Jr. Chris Boucher, and Khem Birch, but by then it was too late. On the night they connected on just 30-of-97 (30.9 percent) from the field and 7-of-34 (20.6 percent) from the 3-point line.

While their ball movement at times looked crisp, they simply couldn’t finish off plays.

4. Siakam’s absence felt

With Anunoby and VanVleet their two primary offensive weapons combining to shoot 8-of-37 (21.6 percent) tonight, the absence of All-Star forward Pascal Siakam was evident as the Raptors struggled to get easy looks, especially in the half-court.

Siakam is on his way back after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season and is expected to return to the court in mid-November.

5. The defence has some work to do

As is the case with any young team, the defensive side of the floor is always going to be a concern and the Raptors have some work to do.

Too often in the first half, the Wizards guards were able to stroll into the paint and get good looks at the rim, with Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie and Raul Neto taking advantage.

The Wizards feasted at the rim tonight, outscoring the Raptors 56-40 in the paint.

6. Achiuwa shows flashes

After an impressive pre-season, precious Achiuwa got the start at center on opening night, showing flashes of his potential as a small-ball five.

His energy and activity was evident from the outset as he deflected passes, hustled for rebounds and tried to finish at the rim, but his enthusiasm caught up with him as he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.

7. Harrell back to his Sixth Man form

It’s just one game, but Washington Wizards big man Montrezl Harrell looked back to his Sixth Man of the Year winning form with an impressive performance off the bench tonight.

He poured in 22 points and nine rebounds on an efficient 9-of-11 from the field.

8. Drake in the house

Raptors Global Ambassador and No. 1 fan Drake was in the building, doing his best to help out the home team and get under Montrezl Harrell’s skin.

In the third quarter, he got into it with Harrell, who was called for a technical afterwards.

9. What’s next for the Raptors?

The Raptors are back in action on Friday against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Boston is coming off a thrilling double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks in their season opener.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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