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Patrick Johnston: What Canucks do for an encore depends on contract, cap issues – The Province

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What to do with Jake Virtanen?

The winger’s game has some holes, but he reminded us of one thing this season: He can score goals.

Shotgun Jake scored 18 goals during the regular season while seeing time on the second power-play unit, occasionally spotting in on Elias Pettersson’s wing. And when he played with Pettersson, the Swedish centre’s possession numbers were outstanding.

But Virtanen also struggled with consistency and spent much of the playoffs on Jay Beagle’s wing. Still, Virtanen is due for a raise and he has arbitration rights, which is a useful hammer for him.

He’s also a fan favourite, so it’s difficult to imagine him being flipped somewhere else. But with the Canucks’ tight cap setup, retaining him could have consequences for how the remainder of the team is constructed.

Chris Tanev has been a stout warrior on defence for the Canucks, and playing with Quinn Hughes also had him chasing the play less often. Photo by Bruce Bennett /Getty Images

Prioritizing free agents

Beyond Markstrom and Virtanen, there are other free agents to be sorted through.

Chris Tanev and Tyler Toffoli are both eligible for unrestricted free agency. Toffoli was a key acquisition at the trade deadline and while he struggled with a foot injury in the playoffs, he brings a scoring pedigree that makes the Canucks’ top lines better.

Like Markstrom, Toffoli is an expensive player. Re-signing him will have an impact on who else stays or goes.

Tanev will have an interesting case in free agency. He turns 31 in December and isn’t the defensive force he once was. That said, playing with rookie Quinn Hughes had him chasing the play far less than he used to, and it’s obvious what a difference that made for his health, as this was the first NHL season in which he didn’t miss a game. (Of course, he would have missed a game had the season not been paused in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.)

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Kansas State rallies to stun No. 3 Oklahoma – TSN

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NORMAN, Okla. — Skylar Thompson passed for 334 yards and ran for three touchdowns, and Kansas State rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 3 Oklahoma 38-35 on Saturday.

Freshman Deuce Vaughn caught four passes for 129 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Wildcats, who were coming off a season-opening loss to Arkansas State. It was Kansas State’s first-ever road win against a top-three team in the AP poll.

Oklahoma freshman Spencer Rattler passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions.

Kansas State upset Oklahoma 48-41 in Manhattan, Kansas, last year.

Kansas State said earlier in the week it was struggling to have enough players available at all position groups to play the game because of COVID-19.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, Rattler threw into traffic and found Drake Stoops for a 32-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown for the son of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and it gave the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

Thompson’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Chabastin Taylor in the second quarter cut Oklahoma’s lead to 14-7, but the Sooners answered with Marvin Mims’ 9-yard touchdown reception in the final minute of the first half.

Rattler’s 53-yard pass to Stoops led to Seth McGowan’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 35-14 late in the third quarter.

Two short rushing touchdowns by Thompson got the Wildcats back in the game. Kansas State’s Nick Allen blocked Reeves Mundschau’s punt, and the Wildcats took over at the Oklahoma 38. Vaughn’s 38-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ second offensive play and the extra point tied it at 35 with 8:17 to play.

Kansas State’s Blake Lynch hit a 50-yard field goal with 4:32 remaining. Kansas State’s Jahron McPherson intercepted Rattler in the final minute to help close out the win.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: The Wildcats didn’t fold when they fell behind and the defense improved in the second half against Rattler.

Oklahoma: The defense fell apart much like it has many times in recent years.

UP NEXT

Kansas State: Hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma: Travels to Iowa State on Saturday. The Cyclones beat the Sooners three years ago and nearly upset them last year before falling 42-41.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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NBA Finals 2020: LeBron James' 10th trip to the Finals is a reminder of his all-time greatness – NBA CA

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Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James went 10-for-17 (58.8%) in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Yes, I’m aware that LeBron actually finished with a ridiculous 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on 15-for-25 shooting – this isn’t a box score thing.

Allow me to clarify.

In his 17th NBA season, LeBron James is now set to make his 10th appearance in the NBA Finals.

If you take away the three years in which James-led teams failed to qualify for the postseason, you’re looking at him appearing in the Finals 10 out of a possible 14 times (71.4%). And after tonight, teams that feature James have only lost once in the conference finals, his lone loss coming against the Orlando Magic in 2009.

Yes, LeBron now holds a 10-1 record in the conference finals.

James has become just the fourth player in NBA history to make 10 or more Finals appearances, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Boston Celtics legends Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) are the only two players that have played on the NBA Finals stage more.

Most Finals appearances, NBA history
RankPlayerAppearancesTitles
1.Bill Russell1211
2.Sam Jones1110
3.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar106
3.LeBron James103
4.Tom Heinsohn98
4.Magic Johnson94
4.Jerry West91

Say what you want about Finals records but to be quite honest, you can only lose in the Finals if you make it to the Finals. Jerry West, the Logo, took seven losses in the Finals before capturing that elusive title on his eighth try, only to lose for an eighth time while in pursuit of a repeat. Winning titles is hard, and getting to the Finals – win or lose – is not the type of accomplishment to scoff at.

The standard to which James is often held speaks to his greatness. That he’s expected to lead teams to the Finals – in his 17th year, no less – is not normal.

Like, we-may-never-see-this-again abnormal.

We also know LeBron’s star has shined its brightest in the Finals. The last time he was there, he opened with a 51-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist performance in what I consider to be one of the greatest individual performances I have ever seen – regular season or postseason.

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Now, after a one-year hiatus from the postseason, James is four wins away from title No. 4 with team No. 3.

It’s worth mentioning that Robert Horry and John Salley are the only players in league history that have won titles with three separate franchises. While Horry and Salley executed their respective roles to a T, LeBron is the first player to lead three separate teams to the finals, posting averages of 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists through the first three rounds, and also has a chance to become the first player to ever win a championship and Finals MVP with three different franchises.

With that being said, James and the 2020 Lakers still have four wins to earn before attaining basketball immortality. And in this league, nothing is guaranteed.

For now, appreciate the greatness of the accomplishment at hand. Unlike the fairly common sight of a player shooting 10-for-17 from the field, we may never see a player lead a team to the Finals in 10 of his 17 seasons ever again.

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

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Israel Adesanya dominates Paulo Costa, finishes with devastating second-round knockout in UFC 253 main event – MMA Fighting

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It was supposed to be the toughest challenge of his career, but Israel Adesanya made it look easy as he dominated Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title in the UFC 253 main event.

“The Last Stylebender” predicted that precision would beat power and that’s exactly how the fight played out as he avoided just about everything Costa threw at him while chopping down the Brazilian contender with leg kicks throughout the opening round. Adesanya then finished the fight with a blistering counter left hand that put Costa down and out for the final time.

The end came at 3:59 in round 2.

There was a lot of bad blood between the middleweights in the days and weeks leading to the event but Adesanya ultimately needed less than two rounds to dispatch Costa and hand him the first loss of his professional career.

“I’ve been telling you guys. Like Roy Jones said, ya’ll must have forgot. Ya’ll must have forgot,” Adesanya said in reference to his previous win over Yoel Romero before making short work of Costa on Saturday night.

“I see you media people with your little clickbait headlines. I had to make ya’ll remember.”

Wary of the power coming from Costa early, Adesanya concentrated on leg kicks in the opening exchanges while looking to chip away at his opponent’s foundation. Rather than rushing ahead to close the distance, Costa countered with a couple of stiff kicks of his own to the body while inviting Adesanya to come after him.

As the fight continued, Adesanya was methodical while dishing out a steady diet of those same leg kicks with Costa willing to stand directly in front of him. While Costa was constantly taunting Adesanya, it was the former kickboxer turned UFC champion who was inflicting far more damage.

Midway through the second round, Adesanya’s leg kicks paid off when he was able to go up to the head where he connected and opened a cut over Costa’s eye.

With a dazed look in his eyes, Costa never really recovered as Adesanya saw the hurt painted all over his opponent and he knew the end was near.

At that moment, Adesanya welcomed an exchange on the feet where he showcased his dazzling defense and then tossed the counter left hand that ultimately led to the finish. As soon as the punch connected, Costa crumbled to the mat and Adesanya only had to threw a few more shots before the referee rushed into stop the contest.

The win moved Adesanya to 20-0 in his career, 9-0 in the UFC and he’s now a two-time defending middleweight champion. Never one to sit back and wait for the next challenge, Adesanya already had a name in mind as he looked ahead to UFC 254 in a few weeks when a former champion squares off with a top ranked contender at 185 pounds.

“I already DM’d Jared Cannonier. He’s a hell of a dude. I love his energy. He’s a beautiful man,” Adesanya said. “I said you destroy Robert Whittaker and you’re next.

“He’s the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he’s next.”

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