Alex Pietrangelo‘s desire to re-sign with the St. Louis Blues hasn’t changed, but he admitted Tuesday he may have to play elsewhere next season.
“Obviously, I want to stay a Blue. Of course I do,” Pietrangelo said.
The defenseman, who has played his 12-season NHL career with the Blues, can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
“It’s the only place I’ve known in professional hockey,” Pietrangelo said. “Legacy is obviously important. This organization means a lot to me. You see Al [MacInnis] come around, you see all the other alumni who are around regularly. That means a lot, right? It’s guys who have a great relationship with the organization that have been around and have set their roots in St. Louis.
“But whether it’s here or somewhere else, you want to play to the best of your ability and leave a legacy wherever you are. That goes along with on the ice and off the ice and try to impact the organization in the community. So, whether it’s here or anywhere else, I think it’s important for me to really kind of set my roots wherever it is, and I know my wife feels the same way.”
The 30-year-old from Ontario, who played the final season of a seven-year, $45.5 million contract ($6.5 million average annual value) he signed Sept. 13, 2013, said he doesn’t know when his situation will be resolved, mostly because the NHL calendar was altered because of the pause in the season due to the coronavirus.
“None of us really planned for this. The League didn’t plan for this, I didn’t plan for it, [Blues general manager Doug Armstrong] didn’t plan for it,” Pietrangelo said. “We’re just going to kind of sit tight until we have a conversation with [Doug] or we wait until [the start of free agency]. We’re not really worrying about so much as much as we are just kind of taking things in stride right now because it’s an odd circumstance for everybody.”
The defending Stanley Cup champions entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the West after going 0-2-1 in the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers. They were eliminated in six games by the No. 5 seed Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference First Round. The lasting image of the elimination game was Blues forward David Perron putting his arm around Pietrangelo when they skated off the ice.
“I remember the moment,” Pietrangelo said. “I guess when the game’s over and I’m thinking the situation that I’m in, I know David and I are really close friends. I appreciated it. I think he understood what I was thinking at the time. I don’t know, it might be the last time I wear the [Blues] jersey and last time I play with him too.”
Pietrangelo, who has 450 points (109 goals, 341 assists) in 758 regular-season games and 51 points (eight goals, 43 assists) in 92 postseason games, scored an NHL career-high 16 goals this season and tied Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators for second among defensemen, behind Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets (20). Pietrangelo’s 52 points were sixth among defensemen.
“[Pietrangelo is] our leader, probably our best player most nights with [center Ryan] O’Reilly,” Perron said. “The way he played this year with this whole situation was extremely impressive. We play our whole careers to win the Cup. I think he wants to feel like he’s respected. He wants to feel like he gets his share of things. I think he deserves it too.”
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington is among those who would like to see Pietrangelo back.
“[Alex is] a pretty dynamic player at both ends of the ice,” Binnington said. “He’ll score a big goal, he’ll be out there last minute of the game competing. He works hard. He’s a big player for us, one of the best players in the NHL.”
Binnington was 0-5-0 with a 4.72 goals-against average and .851 save percentage this season. He backed up Jake Allen after losing Games 1 and 2 to the Canucks, then started Game 6 but was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 18 shots.
Binnington will enter the last season of a two-year, $8.8 million contract ($4.4 million AAV) he signed July 13, 2019, and could be in a similar situation to Pietrangelo when he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.
“Just take care of what you can control,” Binnington said. “That’s kind of my game and myself. The rest will take care of itself, let the money chase you.”
Halep opens with Sorribes Tormo, Serena set for rematch – WTA Tennis
PARIS, France – 2018 champion Simona Halep will begin her quest for her second Coupe Suzanne Lenglen against Sara Sorribes Tormo, while Serena Williams faces a familiar foe in the first round of the French Open.
The draw for the last Grand Slam of 2020 was released today, featuring several mouth-watering first-round clashes and plenty of potential landmines for seeded players.
Top seed Halep will seek to build on her momentum after winning two clay titles in the buildup to Paris, lifting the Prague trophy and achieving her career first triumph in Rome last week. Halep is in the same quarter of the draw as No.5 seed Kiki Bertens, who opens against Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska. The Romanian could face No.25 Amanda Anisimova in the third round, though an unseeded Jil Teichmann could derail those plans.
Elsewhere in Halep and Bertens’ top quarter, last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova, the No.15 seed, will take on 19-year-old Iga Swiatek, while No.9 seed Johanna Konta faces off against teen phenom Coco Gauff in the first round.
Karolina Pliskova, the No.2 seed, anchors the bottom quarter of the draw, and begins her Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier. A potential clash with former champion Jelena Ostapenko could be looming in the second round, should both players advance. The winner could get a third round match against former finalist Sloane Stephens, the No.29 seed who starts against Vitalia Diatchenko.
No.7 seed Petra Kvitova landed in the same quarter as fellow Czech player Pliskova, and will take on home hope Oceane Dodin in her first match. No.31 seed Magda Linette is a potential third round opponent, though the Polish player will have to get through the rising Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the first round.
No.18 seed Angelique Kerber was also drawn into this quarter, as she resumes her quest to complete the career Slam with a victory at Roland Garros. She is on a possible third-round collision course with former US Open finalist Madison Keys, the No.12 seed.
Elina Svitolina leads a stacked quarter highlighted by US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. The No.3 seed herself will open against Varvara Gracheva, a rising Russian player who impressed with a run to the US Open third round in her Grand Slam debut. Svitolina could meet No.27 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round.
For the second tournament in a row, No.6 seed Serena will face Kristie Ahn in the first round as she kicks off her quest for an all-time record tying 24th Grand Slam crown. Should she advance, Serena could get another US Open rematch with Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.
But the deja vu wouldn’t be over yet, as Serena could see familiar foe Azarenka as early as the round of 16, in a rematch of the pair’s electrifying US Open semifinal. Azarenka herself will start her French Open campaign against Danka Kovinic, and could face an unseeded Venus Williams in the second round.
To make things even more interesting, No.17 seed Anett Kontaveit, No.16 Elise Mertens and No.23 Yulia Putintseva have also landed in Svitolina, Serena and Azarenka’s quarter, ready to spring a potential upset.
No.4 seed Sofia Kenin tops a quarter of on-the-rise stars as she seeks to lift her second Grand Slam title. The Australian Open champion will face Liudmila Samsonova in the first round, with a potential third-round clash against No.26 Donna Vekic awaiting should both players advance.
No.8 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No.11 Garbine Muguruza have also been drawn into Kenin’s quarter and are on a Round of 16 collision course. They’ll have to get through their opening matches, with former champion Muguruza taking on Tamara Zidansek in the first round and Sabalenka starting against Jessica Pegula.
Two of the most in-form players of the year also make an appearance in this section, as No.30 seed Ons Jabeur and No.21 Jennifer Brady look to make their mark at Roland Garros. Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam at the Australian Open, will take on Zarina Diyas in the first round, and could advance to face Muguruza in the third. Lexington champion Brady will start against a qualifier, and could meet Sabalenka in the third round herself.
To view the full draw, visit rolandgarros.com.
Jays win and clinch a playoff spot – Bluebird Banter
That was a nice game. A fun one for those of us who miss the idea of a pitcher going late into a game.
Hyun Jin Ryu went 7 innings, allowed 5 hits, 2 walks (1 short of his season high) with 4 strikeouts. He only really had trouble once, in the sixth inning, he allowed back-to-back singles to Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks, to start the inning, then he got Giancarlo Stanton to strikeout, Gleyber Torres to fly out and Gio Urshela to ground out.
Ryu gave up just one extra base hit, a Urshela double. And there were few hard hit outs.
Anthony Bass came in for the eighth and had all sorts of trouble, giving up a hit and 3 walks while getting just 2 outs. And one of the outs was on a very nice play by Vladimir Guerrero, going a long way towards second to get the ball and then making a nice throw get the fielder’s choice at second base. They came close to a double play, Bass (unusual for a Jays’ pitcher this season) got to first base in plenty of time, but Bo Bichette’s throw was just a bit late.
Rafael Dolis came in with the bases loaded and pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez up. Sanchez took a pitch high, but the ump called it a strike, then chased a pitch that bounce, then barely avoided a pitch inside off the plate. He should have let it hit him. Then Sanchez hit one to the wall in center field that Randal Grichuk got to and made a nice catch. Five feet further and the Yankees would have been in front.
Dolis, who hasn’t pitched in a few days, didn’t look all that sharp, but he got Aaron Judge to strikeout (on a full count) to start the ninth.
On offense, it was the big boy’s night. Vladimir Guerrero was 3 for 4, with a home run in the second inning and Alejandro Kirk had a 2-run double in the sixth.
In between we had back-to-back doubles from Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette to get our other run, in the third inning.
With 10 hits, maybe we should have scored more. Vlad had the 3 hits and Grichuk had 2. Everyone else had a hit excepting Teoscar Hernandez (0 for 3, walk, 2 strikeouts) and Danny Jansen (0 for 3, 2 strikeouts, after the two home run day yesterday). Then DJ LeMahieu struck out. But Voit tapped one up the third base line for an infield single. Thankfully Aaron Hicks chased strike three and the party was on.
Jays of the Day: Ryu (.386 WPA), Dolis (.125), Vlad (.133) and I’m giving one to Kirk (.067) just because it is near the end of the season and I don’t want to have a lot of these sitting around gathering dust all winter.
Suckage: No one had the number, but I’m giving one to Bass (-.077) for making me sweat.
We had 600 comments into the game thread. EMK19 led us to the playoff clinching win!
Murray blows minds, but Lakers’ defence shines late in Game 4 vs. Nuggets – Sportsnet.ca
The Denver Nuggets must really like being down 3–1.
On Thursday night, they became the first NBA team — and will likely remain the only team for at least a very, very long time — to go down 3–1 three separate times in the same playoff run.
Not that it was an academic win for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, however. The game was tight throughout before the Lakers came up with a huge three-and-a-half minute defensive stand at the end of the fourth quarter to seal it 114–108.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
All eyes on Murray
After Jamal Murray‘s performance in Game 3 — 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in 48 minutes — Nuggets head coach Mike Malone and Nikola Jokic both called him a “superstar,” and a bunch of national media seemed to agree. That’s as big a “reading his own press clippings” trap as there ever was. But it didn’t seem to affect Murray at all.
He started 3-for-3 for six points in the game’s first four minutes en route to 32 in the game.
Anything you can do…
Yes, Murray is a superstar. But the Lakers have two of those, too, and one of them came out of the gate even hotter than the guard from Kitchener, Ont. Anthony Davis scored the Lakers’ first 10 points, and started the game hitting his first seven shots.
Throughout the night, the Nuggets threw several defenders at him — from Jokic to Mason Plumlee to Paul Millsap — but none of them had much success. And when the Nuggets doubled, Davis found a couple of open shooters, leading to one clean early LeBron James look that resulted in three points.
He also had a hand in keeping Jokic’s contributions low, putting him in foul trouble and getting to the line a ton. Davis finished with 34 points on only 15 shots from the field — which is pretty damn good.
This is just a really nice pass
Did we mention Murray had a nice game? With the Lakers absolutely terrified of him putting the ball in the air in the first quarter, he drew the defence to him and did this:
— IV Sighters (@IVSighters) September 25, 2020
I don’t want to say it, but here it is: the playoffs are about adjustments. The Lakers got killed on the glass in Game 3, getting outrebounded by the Nuggets 44–25. In that game, starting centre Javale McGee and backup Dwight Howard combined for two boards.
So ahead of Game 4, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel moved Howard into the starting lineup, and was rewarded handsomely. Howard set the tone early in the first quarter with four straight points off putbacks. And he was just getting started. In the first half, he totalled 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting with 10 rebounds.
And Howard wasn’t the only one getting in on the offensive glass. The Lakers outscored the Nuggets 18–2 on second-chance points in the first half alone — essentially nullifying Denver’s super-hot shooting performance — and went into the break up by five.
By the end of the game, the Lakers had bested their previous game’s rebound total by 16 and outboarded their opponents 41–33.
Yes, but back to Murray
JAMAL MURRAY, ARE YOU KIDDING?!
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 25, 2020
After Murray hit that layup with 2:30 left in the second quarter, Reggie Miller said on the TNT broadcast that he’s going to get some Michael Jordan comparisons, and Chris Webber started laughing. He was going to say the same thing but thought he’d get killed for it. Guess not. So we’re officially in the “legitimate comparisons to MJ” stage of Murray’s insane playoff run.
The surge in appreciation for Murray isn’t just due to the consistency, efficiency and fourth-quarter bankability — it’s those things coupled with the degree of difficulty on a surprisingly large number of his shots. Spinning layups into shot-blockers? Faux-Euro-step straight-on bankers? Abrupt, no-lift floaters from in-between distances? He’s got all that and more, and he’s one of the most exciting players in the NBA because of it.
Danny Green has taken some heat from Lakers fans and general NBA watchers for his poor shooting in these playoffs, but what if I told you he hasn’t even been the worst-shooting starting shooting guard in this series?
After averaging 10.7 points on 50 per cent shooting (41.7 percent from deep) with nearly two steals per game in the Clippers series, Nuggets guard Gary Harris is putting up 4.5 points on sub-25 per cent shooting against the Lakers. He put up just three points Thursday in a playoff-low 19 minutes.
Suddenly Green’s 7.8 points on 28.6 per cent shooting in the first three games don’t look that bad. (Sort of.)
Despite the fact that Jokic had a rare quiet performance, the Nuggets kept this game within reach thanks to Murray — seriously, did we mention him? — and solid contributions from Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris, who finished with 17, 13 and 12 points, respectively.
But in the waning minutes of the game, James took over primary defence on Murray, and forced him into two missed running bank shots, which, given his performance to that point, was kind of jarring. (Full disclosure: Slow-mo replay of one of the shots made a James block look like a foul, but it wasn’t called.)
After the game, Vogel told reporters James asked for the assignment.
“LeBron asked for the assignment and obviously I granted it. He did a great job down the stretch,” Vogel said. “Nothing was really working to slow him down until LeBron took that assignment, so game ball to him.”
The Nuggets managed to shrink the Laker lead to three points on Morris’s and-one at the 3:28 mark, but missed all five of their shots afterwards. Game, Lakers, and now the Nuggets are left trying to come back from 3–1 — for a third time.
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