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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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Montreal Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to eight-year contract extension – Habs Eyes on the Prize



The forward re-signs with the team for the maximum length.

Montreal Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to eight-year contract extension
Anton Rasegard

The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Cole Caufield to an eight-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday.

The contract will have an average cap hit of $7.85 million per season, just under the AAV for the same length of contract signed by team captain Nick Suzuki last year. The contract will last until the end of the 2030-31 season.

Caufield finished last season with 26 goals, and held the team lead in that category for most of the season despite playing only 46 games before undergoing shoulder surgery. He also had 10 assists.

The contract now locks in the two franchise cornerstones Caufield and Suzuki for the maximum length and cap hits under $8 million. It’s a good bit of business for Kent Hughes to get this done before free agency, and has the potential for great cap management as the years go by.

In the sixth year of the contract, per CapFriendly, there is a 15 team no-trade clause that drops to 10 teams in year seven and five in year eight.

Patrik Bexell, Matt Drake, and Jared Book discuss the contract in a special Habsent Minded Extra.

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Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt announces birth of child to cap ‘perfect weekend’



The Toronto Blue Jays had a memorable few days in New York, thanks to a three-game sweep of the Mets, but that’s not the biggest reason starting pitcher Chris Bassitt is all smiles these days.

Bassitt and his wife, Jessica, welcomed their second child over the weekend, with the veteran right-hander reporting that both mother and baby are doing well.

“Perfect weekend complete,” Bassitt wrote on Twitter. “Momma and Colson are doing great.”

Jessica went into labour Friday, while her husband took his normal turn in the Blue Jays’ rotation. Bassitt channelled all of his “dad strength” in that outing against the Mets, firing 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 Toronto win. In a cruel twist from the universe, the start of the game was delayed more than 90 minutes due to inclement weather.


Once his outing was over, Bassitt rushed back to Toronto via private plane to be with Jessica for Colson’s birth. He made it in plenty of time, tweeting Saturday morning that the baby hadn’t arrived yet.

The 34-year-old will now be able to enjoy a few days with his family, as the Blue Jays placed him on the paternity list Saturday. Reliever Jay Jackson took his place on the 26-man roster.

Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Bassitt’s Blue Jays teammates gave him even more reason to cheer by eking out a 2-1 victory Saturday before getting the brooms out with a 6-4 win in the series finale.

Brandon Belt was the hero Sunday, connecting for a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh inning after Toronto squandered an early 4-0 advantage. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also went deep for the Blue Jays, while Whit Merrifield delivered a two-run double in the second inning.

Next up, Toronto welcomes the Houston Astros to Rogers Centre for a four-game series that begins Monday. Bassitt is listed as the probable starter for Wednesday’s contest.



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Rory McIlroy (T-1) falls back on short game, stays positive with chance at Memorial



DUBLIN, Ohio – Rory McIlroy will set out Sunday afternoon at Jack’s Place looking to secure the second leg of the “Legends Slam” with a swing that’s well short of perfect and no shortage of would-be spoilers lurking.

He couldn’t be happier.

For the third consecutive day at the Memorial, McIlroy leaned on luck and grit to keep pace with the co-leaders – Si Woo Kim and David Lipsky – at 6 under par with 10 other players within two shots of the lead. Betting lines will undoubtedly favor the world No. 3 against the other contenders, but the truth is he has no idea what to expect when he sets out in the week’s final group.

Full-field scores from the Memorial Tournament


“I don’t think I hit a green from the eighth hole through the 14th hole, and I played those holes in even par,” McIlroy shrugged following his third-round 70. “Chip in on 12 [for birdie] and got it up-and-down from some tricky spots. I was really happy with how I scored out there and how I just sort of hung in there for most of the day.”

If McIlroy’s happy-to-be-here take doesn’t match with his world-beater persona, it’s the honest byproduct of a swing that he’s repeatedly said is a work in progress. Saturday’s round on a hard-and-fast course was the most-recent example of his very real struggle.

There was the chip-in for birdie at No. 12 from 25 feet and scrambling pars at Nos. 8, 11, 13 and 14. The major champion, whose career has been written with an overwhelming driver and sublime iron play, has now fully embraced the scrappy life.

“Embracing it,” he smiled. “There was a couple of shots out there when I missed the greens that I was sort of looking forward to hit. I think it’s embracing that challenge and embracing the fact that you’re probably not going to hit more than 12 or 13 greens out there. I think with how my short game’s been this week it’s something I’ve been able to fall back on, which has been great.”

To be fair, Rory is still Rory off the tee. He’s eighth this week in strokes gained: off the tee and second in driving distance, which at Muirfield Village is an accomplishment considering host Jack Nicklaus’ mission is to take driver out of the hands of the game’s top players.

Where the challenge has come is from the fairway and, despite his lofty status among the leaders, Saturday’s effort was his statistically worst of the week with just 7 of 18 greens in regulation and a loss to the field (1.71 shots) in strokes gained: approach the green.

Still, he’s the easy favorite with 18 holes remaining and for good reason. Other than Kim, who has four PGA Tour victories including the 2017 Players Championship, the next six players on the board have a combined four Tour victories.

“It’s a big tournament and I’ve got quite a bit of experience in that and you would like to think that gives you a little bit of an advantage,” McIlroy said. “Everyone’s going to go out there tomorrow and, regardless of where you are in the tournament, this golf course makes you a little uncomfortable anyway. So, everyone’s going to be feeling like that. With the way the leaderboard is and how bunched it is, it’s just going to come down to who can sort of hold their head the most coming down the stretch.”




Scottie Scheffler isn’t happy with what he’s been putting out on the course as of late, despite some solid results.


Considering his own assessment of his swing, keeping a positive outlook doesn’t seem to be a problem for McIlroy this week. It might have something to do with what has admittedly been a rough couple of weeks, which stretch back to his missed cut at the Masters. Or it might just be the opportunity.

When he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2018, it was two years after that tournament’s host and legend had died. For a player who grew up idolizing The King, it was a bittersweet accomplishment and a part of why Sunday at Muirfield Village is likely to mean more than the sum of its parts.

“To be able to walk up that hill from 18 and get that handshake from Jack would be pretty nice,” he said. “I won Arnold’s tournament a few years ago, but he had already passed by that time. So it would be so nice to be able to do it and have Jack be there.”

It’s been an interesting year for McIlroy both on and off the course, which at least partially explains a lightness in his step that had been missing. There was also a message from his sports psychologist, Bob Rotella, last week that appeared to resonate with the 23-time Tour winner: “You are going to win your fare share of golf tournaments. You tee it up to see what your fare share is.”



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