A Maple Leafs lineup light on star power and heavy on bubble players will make the trip to Ottawa tonight for the third primer of the six-game exhibition season (7:00 p.m. EST, TSN4&5).
The Czech duo of David Kampf and Ondrej Kase will remain together for the second consecutive game after both scored (Kampf’s goal came shorthanded) and showed some burgeoning chemistry together in Montreal on Monday. In addition to his shorthanded goal, Kampf logged over four minutes on the penalty kill, won 65% of his draws, and put four shots on net.
This time, the pair will be flanked by PTO invite Nikita Gusev, who will need to show more than he did on Monday in Montreal if he’s to earn a contract, on their left wing. It appears as though Keefe is giving the Kampf-Kase duo a pretty hard look as a possible third-line combination for opening night, although it is early days still. The versatility of the pair, particularly Kampf, is something Sheldon Keefe has referenced multiple times throughout camp to date.
“The addition of Kampf gives us depth at center that, to me, we haven’t had in my time here,” Keefe said today. “I feel comfortable playing David Kampf against anybody at any time. That is a very important thing, as it is going to help manage the minutes of Matthews and Tavares a little bit, too.”
This is a point I made shortly after the Kampf signing: The demands on Matthews and Marner all over the ice were high last season relative to the league’s other elite forward duos who tend to start a higher percentage of their shifts in the offensive zone. If Keefe is going to manage the pair’s minutes more responsibly and do it in the right way — i.e. while keeping them flush with high-leverage offensive situations — a credible checking center like Kampf, if he’s up to the challenge (as he was in Chicago), can share some of the burden and becomes an important piece of the overall puzzle up front.
On the backend, 33-year-old defenseman Alex Biega will make his preseason debut. Of the Leafs‘ four options at right defense in this camp — Travis Dermott on his off side, Timothy Liljegren, Biega, and Brennan Mennell — Biega by far has the most experience playing regular shifts at the RD position at the NHL level, which shouldn’t be totally lost on us when contemplating the options for the opening-night roster.
As for Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin, both will be playing without their top-four veteran partners from last Saturday’s game (Muzzin and Brodie), which should provide a different type of test here tonight.
In the battle to stay in the mix for the 4C spot, Kirill Semyonov and Michael Amadio are looking to build on quietly solid performances in their first preseason games on Saturday (Adam Brooks, playing on Amadio’s left wing tonight, is also in this battle). Lined up on the left side with Gusev are two other players in the mix for the opportunity available on the team’s LW in Michael Bunting and Nick Robertson, with Bunting having the leg up for a top-six spot at the moment between his contract status, his goal-scoring success in the league last season (albeit in a small sample), and his strong first showing in preseason next to John Tavares last Saturday.
In net, Petr Mrazek will start from the puck drop tonight after entering Monday’s game for the second half and facing a very light workload (eight shots) with the Leafs already trailing by multiple goals.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on the opportunities for players on the bubble tonight:
Every game is important for guys on the bubble. You don’t get a lot of opportunities. This is a good one for them here today.
They are going to play against some of Ottawa’s best players. They are going to play a lot. They are going to play in some similar situations they might be in if they were to make our team or come play for us as callups. They are going to play in some situations that they think they maybe should be, and they will get those opportunities.
Without most of our top guys, there will be a lot of ice time, power-play opportunities, penalty kill opportunities, matchups — all of those kinds of things. They are not going to be there for much longer.
Keefe on Nick Robertson’s camp so far:
For me, you include the rookie tournament in his camp. We got a lot of feedback there. I was able to get viewings myself. I think he has done a really good job of working, being competitive, showing his skill set, and also, in the rookie tournament, he took on a leadership role in terms of setting the example. He is a guy who has been there and was one of the only guys in the group who had played in the NHL. That has been really positive.
In the early going here [at main camp], he has had some good moments in time. The biggest hurdle for him is the fact that we have a lot of depth here. He is still a young guy trying to find his way. He is trying to sort through being the dangerous top-six scorer we think he can be and we certainly think he has the ability to be.
That opportunity may not be available for him. He is trying to figure out how to do the other things really well and be good in the other areas of the game. He gets a chance to kill penalties and do things that he has done at the junior level. He killed penalties with the Marlies last year, which was important for us to give him those minutes to do so.
He is a young guy in the mix with older guys who are trying to compete for spots. He is certainly in the mix for us. He has a lot of tools we can utilize when the time comes for it.
Keefe on Kirill Semyonov’s camp to date:
Jim Paliafito identified him. He has come in as a guy who is coming off of a good season in the KHL. He was an important player on his team and helped them win a championship out there.
He is coming into a team that has added depth since his signing. He is competing for a spot. I have only watched him on video up until a week or so ago. I thought the other night, especially watching the game back again, he did a lot of really good things.
The number of power plays happening both ways affected his ice time. We probably didn’t get to see him as much as I was hoping, and we are hoping we can get him more involved here tonight. There have definitely been positive things there.
The language issue is always the biggest challenge for players who come over from Russia in particular, but he hasn’t picked up what we are trying to do very quickly. In practices, he is picking up on the drills and tactics. He is a smart player and a competitive player who showed the other night that he can also make plays and contribute on offense, too.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#89 Nick Robertson – #15 Alex Kerfoot – #24 Wayne Simmonds
#97 Nikita Gusev – #64 David Kampf – #25 Ondrej Kase
#58 Michael Bunting – #94 Kirill Semyonov – #52 Josh Ho-Sang
#77 Adam Brooks – #18 Michael Amadio – #29 Kurtis Gabriel
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #33 Alex Biega
#48 Carl Dahlstrom – #23 Travis Dermott
#82 Filip Kral – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#35 Petr Mrazek
#30 Michael Hutchinson
Ottawa Senators Projected Lines
Stützle – Tierney – C. Brown
Sanford – White – Paul
Kelly – Ostapchuk – Sherwood
Goulbourne – Bishop – Sabourin
Del Zotto – Zaitsev
Aspirot – J. Brown
Brannstrom – Thomson
NHL suspends Sharks’ Evander Kane 21 games for COVID-19 protocol violations – Sportsnet.ca
The NHL also announced Monday that its concurrent investigation into allegations of domestic abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Deanna, could not be substantiated.
Kane said he is in counselling in a statement released by the NHLPA.
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) October 18, 2021
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” Kane said in a statement released by the NHLPA. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”
The Sharks also released a statement.
Statement from the San Jose Sharks. pic.twitter.com/P25XxpiJgH
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 18, 2021
Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Kane had previously been cleared by the NHL in an investigation into allegations made by Deanna Kane that he bet on hockey games, including some against the Sharks.
But the league did determine that Kane violated the COVID-19 protocols. A person familiar with the investigation said earlier this month that the league was looking into allegations that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details weren’t made public.
Using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada, as well as against NHL rules.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that only four players on active rosters hadn’t been vaccinated.
Kane had not been around the team since the start of training camp while these investigations were ongoing in an agreement between him and the team.
Kane, 30, is three seasons into a $49 million, seven-year contract. He’s with his third organization after being drafted by and debuting with Atlanta/Winnipeg and a stint in Buffalo.
The 30-year-old led the Sharks in scoring last season with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.
The Vancouver native has 506 career points (262 goals, 242 assists) in 769 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Sharks.
Red Sox’s two grand slams lead ALCS rout of Astros – Sportsnet.ca
HOUSTON — J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox have a grand old time in Houston.
Boston became the first team to slug two grand slams in a postseason game, with Martinez and Devers connecting in the first two innings of a 9-5 win over the Astros on Saturday that tied their AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
Martinez made it 4-0 with his opposite-field shot off rookie Luis Garcia with two outs in the first. It was the first career playoff slam for the four-time All-Star, who began his career with the Astros.
Garcia exited with right knee discomfort after walking the first batter of the second inning. Jake Odorizzi took over, and shortly after a 13-minute delay while the right-hander warmed up on the field, Devers connected with one out for slam No. 2.
“J.D.’s swing was huge to get us on the board early, and then Raffy, same thing, another granny,” red-hot teammate Kike Hernandez said. “Has that ever happened before?”
It has now.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston. It’s the first of three consecutive home games for the Red Sox, back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2018 World Series after downing Houston in the ALCS.
Hernandez, who Boston manager Alex Cora referred to Friday night as “en fuego” after a two-homer performance in Game 1, remained on fire Saturday. He had two hits, highlighted by a solo homer in the fourth inning.
Hernandez has been this postseason’s hottest hitter, leading all players with 16 hits, five homers and four doubles. His nine extra-base hits are also the most in these playoffs and tied a Red Sox postseason record with Mike Lowell (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2007) and David Ortiz (2004 & 2007).
“The importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in,” Hernandez said.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi permitted five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Astros captured a 5-4 win in the series opener as they rallied behind homers from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa before falling into the huge hole early in this one.
“That’s a tough team,” Cora said. “It’s never comfortable with them because they’re a swing away from getting back in the game.”
The Red Sox were up 9-0 when Houston got on the board with an RBI double by Kyle Tucker with two outs in the fourth. The Astros cut the lead to 9-3 when Yuli Gurriel followed with single to right field that scored two more.
Gurriel and Jason Castro added solo homers in the ninth off Darwinzon Hernandez before Ryan Brasier got the final out.
“At the end, it was a little too close for comfort, but we got it done,” Hernandez said.
The injury to Garcia is another blow to a Houston team trying to reach the World Series for the second time in three years. The Astros are already reeling after an injury to staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. that kept him off the roster for this series.
They won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal.
When McCullers went out, manager Dusty Baker said the team would just have to “hit more” to absorb the loss. But now that the rotation is further depleted, it’ll be an even taller task for this powerful lineup outgunning a Boston team whose offense has outpaced everyone this postseason.
Odorizzi was left off the Division Series roster after a disappointing first season in Houston before getting a spot in this round after the injury to McCullers. He allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings Saturday in a performance that certainly isn’t good news for a team that is running short on starters.
TOUGH UP TOP
Altuve and Michael Brantley, the top two hitters in Houston’s lineup, are a combined 2 for 17 in the series with a hit each, including Altuve’s homer in Game 1.
There’s a day off Sunday before Houston’s Jose Urquidy makes his first start this postseason in Game 3 Monday. The Red Sox have yet to name their starter.
'It was surreal': University of Toronto student suits up for Toronto Maple Leafs – CTV News Toronto
By day, he’s a university student and the goalie for the University of Toronto’s men’s hockey team. By night, or at least for one night, he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I keep remembering little details every once in a while,” Alex Bishop told CTV News Toronto. “Saying, oh, that was really cool, or that was really cool – but I think it’ll definitely take a couple of days.”
The morning after his NHL debut, Bishop admitted it still hadn’t sunk in.
“It’s not really something that you sit at home and think, ‘oh, maybe I’ll get to sit on an NHL bench tonight.’ It just doesn’t go through your head.”
Bishop first heard of the potential opportunity on Friday morning through a message from his coach. The Leafs’ Petr Mrázek was out with a groin injury, and the team’s salary cap limitations prevented them from calling up a back-up goalie until Sunday.
Saturday morning he was on the ice, practicing with the team he’s grown up idolizing.
“It was surreal for sure,” Bishop said, adding that the players “were all very, very nice- like super welcoming.”
As for taking shots from the professionals he usually watches on television, Bishop said it wasn’t as daunting as one would think.
“As soon as you get on the ice, it’s just hockey — just different players and different shooters. I tried to just look at it that way but at the same time, try to soak it all in and say, I’m here, this is really cool.”
But he admitted it was a different story when it came time to walk out onto the ice at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night as the Leafs faced the Ottawa Senators.
“Even just walking to the bench, there’s fans on your left, fans on your right, the cameras are flashing, the horns are going crazy. It’s something you’ve seen on TV, and even if you’re at the game, you hear it, but to be experiencing it first hand, it’s indescribable.”
Bishop spent the game sitting at the end of the bench, never taking the ice. But he says that’s just fine with him.
“I just don’t think it really could have worked out better. I was able to be there the whole game and didn’t have to go in, so, best-case scenario.”
Bishop says he enjoyed everything about the night, including the chance to experience the things most fans never get to see.
“Just kind of being around the team and seeing just a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes on game day — what they do to prepare, and then obviously having a courtside seat to an NHL game is definitely not something to complain about.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a life-long fan of the team, something passed down to him from his father. Bishop says the Leafs got tickets for his mom, dad, and sister to watch the game. They were also given Leaf jerseys with his name and number on the back.
Barring another series of unfortunate events for the Leafs, the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player will suit up again for the U of T Varsity Blues.
“We’re a real, strong team,” Bishop said, “I think we have a good chance to go a decent way this year, so I’m hoping we can do that.”
As for what’s next for Bishop: midterms. He has one on Tuesday and another on Thursday, though he admits he usually crams for midterms, so his brief NHL career didn’t interrupt his studying too much.
It will be a busy week for Bishop and one he says he’ll likely never forget.
“It really isn’t lost on me that this is like.. an opportunity that not many people get. So I was very fortunate in being able to do this.”
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