TSN Toronto Reporter Mark Masters reports on the Maple Leafs, who practised at Ford Performance Centre on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
The first game back from the West Coast can be a tricky one so Sheldon Keefe has come up with an interesting plan to try and keep his group in a groove.
“My approach was that, essentially, today and tomorrow’s game are an extension of the road trip,” the coach said. “We haven’t necessarily settled at home yet. I’ve already spent as much time in this building as I have at home since coming back.”
The team flew back from California on Monday after wrapping up a 4-0-0 road trip. Keefe didn’t make it through his front door until 6:30 p.m. A few hours later, he was back on the ice at practice.
“We knew we couldn’t push the guys too hard today,” Keefe said following a 35-minute session. “I wanted the intensity to be high within that short time frame and I thought it was. I liked the pace and energy that we had. Once the whistle blew, I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen the ice clear so that’s a pretty good indication of where our guys are at.”
The players haven’t enjoyed a full day off since Nov. 19. There is a day off scheduled on Thursday. So, Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche is a real mental test.
“As much as it’s a boost to be back home and playing in front of our fans tomorrow, we still haven’t really recovered from the road trip,” Keefe stressed. “We have to still be treating it like you’re on the road where you got to take care of yourself, you got to make sure you’re getting good sleep and staying focused on how we’ve played and what we’ve done to succeed on the road.”
It would be easy to relax and let the foot off the gas considering the 14-2-0 run the team is on.
“Our mindset has to stay with where it was,” Keefe said. “The fact we are still feeling a little weary from the road, that will help us stay in that mindset. That’s what I was trying to reinforce today.”
Toronto’s incredible run has been fuelled not by a scoring surge, but by stingy defensive play. Since Oct. 26, Toronto leads the NHL in goals against per game (1.63).
“Everyone’s buying in and that’s what it starts with,” said forward Alex Kerfoot. “It really starts with a decision amongst the group that everyone really has to buy into it and everyone has to be on the same page. When, on an individual level, you’re all committing to defence it really helps the team game as well and structurally we’ve been great.”
“Everybody’s doing what the game plan is and also some more,” said goalie Jack Campbell, who leads the league in save percentage (.946).
The Avalanche lead the league in goals per game (four) this season. Colorado has won seven of eight games and Nathan MacKinnon is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday.
“We’ve been really consistent over the last little while with the way we’re defending and just the mindset and the attitude,” captain John Tavares said. “No question, we’re probably going to have our toughest test with that tomorrow.”
Despite just wrapping up the most successful month, by wins (12), in franchise history, no one seems too satisfied. On Tuesday, Tavares was quick to point out where his team can be better.
“The last couple of games we probably haven’t sustained momentum maybe as much as we would like,” Toronto’s leading scorer (22 points) said. “We can be a little better through the neutral zone. When that’s going really well that’s when we can really play with the puck and play to our strengths with the depth we have and the skill-sets that we got.”
It seems like a long time since the Leafs lost four straight (0-3-1) in October. The team has looked much different on and off the ice since then.
Toronto adopted a relaxed dress code at the start of the season, but when the losses piled up the team went back to the traditional suits approach.
“Management just felt that they wanted to go back,” Tavares revealed. “There was a mutual understanding of the expectations on a daily basis with giving us more of the freedom and [they] felt the standards we needed to be at weren’t quite at the level.”
Petr Mrazek was a full participant at practice on Tuesday.
“Happy to be back, I can tell you that,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s been a tough start for me. I try to be positive and work hard to get back.”
Mrazek suffered a groin injury in his first start of the season on Oct. 14 in Ottawa. He hurt the groin again in his first game back on Oct. 30.
“I started feeling it a little bit during the game but it wasn’t as bad as in Ottawa so I finished the game,” Mrazek recalled. “A few days after, we were looking at it and it wasn’t getting any better.”
Mrazek visited with a groin specialist, who advised him to shut things down. Tuesday marked his first full practice since then.
Keefe says the plan is for Mrazek to ramp up his workload in the coming days before joining the Marlies for an American Hockey League conditioning stint this weekend.
“It’s frustrating,” Mrazek said of his start in Toronto. “Hopefully it’s going to have a great end. It’s early in the season. The season’s long.”
Mrazek did travel with the team to California last week, which allowed him to continue to bond with his new teammates, including Kyle Clifford. The pair will forever be connected by the David Ayres game. On that fateful night – Feb. 22, 2020 – Hurricanes starter James Reimer got hurt and was replaced by Mrazek. Mrazek then got injured when he and Clifford collided while both going for a loose puck.
“We did talk about that,” Mrazek said with a smile. “We sit next to each other on the plane and [while] playing poker. All good. We talked about it a little bit. He said he was going to for a breakaway. He was making a joke about that. He’s a great guy and those things, when you play against a team, happen.”
After Mrazek departed, emergency back-up goalie Ayres, a 42-year-old, took centre stage and recorded the win.
“You don’t even think in that moment that you don’t have any back-up on the bench,” Mrazek recalled. “You just go for the puck if you have to and that’s what happened.”
Would he do the same thing again?
“Yeah, I would go for the puck again,” Mrazek said with a grin.
But the Czech native is well aware that the Ayres game is still a sore subject in this city.
What does he think about what happened after he left the game?
“I don’t think we have to talk about that,” he said.
Keefe hasn’t hesitated to tweak a winning lineup and he will make another change on Wednesday. Joey Anderson, who has five goals and two assists in 13 AHL games, will make his season debut with the Leafs.
“Joey is a guy who works extremely hard,” Keefe said. “He is a versatile player. He has good defensive instincts and a great work ethic. We think he can help on the penalty kill. We liked his camp. We liked his start to the Marlies season. He has been up here a few times with us now and he has done well in our practices.”
Clifford, who made his season debut with Toronto on Sunday, will be scratched.
Anderson played just one game with the Leafs last season (Jan. 26 in Calgary). It was a trying year for the 23-year-old from Minnesota.
“Last year was very hockey-centric,” he said. “I wasn’t able to get away from the game … Being in Canada, my family wasn’t able to come and I’m really close with them. Normally they come and see me once or twice a month so that was tough. When I got here last year, I didn’t know many players in the organization and I was living alone and it was tough for me to be kind of be sitting alone all day.”
Anderson likes to blow off steam by golfing, bowling and, of course, visiting with family and friends.
“This year’s nice,” he said. “My family’s been out here a ton. It’s just been great to interact with people away from the rink again. Even being around the team and guys away from the rink has been, really, a blessing for me this year.”
Anderson accompanied the Leafs to California at the start of the recent road trip, but was recalled to Marlies after just one day out West. That brief cross-continent trip allowed him to catch up with younger brother Mikey Anderson, who is a defenceman with the Los Angeles Kings. The pair had dinner and watched a couple of movies.
“It was a really nice gesture,” Anderson said. “Obviously, they know how tough last year was on everybody so they’re trying to help everybody out and make sure guys are feeling good. As much as it helped me, I know it definitely was nice for him to see me as well. L.A. is a long way from home for us. Even though we can fly there, it’s not the cheapest thing for our family to get out and see him and any time we can see each other it’s a really special thing.”
Auston Matthews scored in all three games during the California swing, but didn’t rely on his patented wrist shot to start his first goal streak of the season. Instead, he converted on rebounds and deflections.
“When it’s not going in from the outside you just got to get to the net and I was fortunate to get a couple bounces, a couple good tips and able to cash in,” Matthews said. “I can score from different areas so just try to get to the net. Obviously, that’s where goals are scored a huge percentage of the time.”
Matthews arrived in California having gone 10 games without a goal in five-on-five play, which was his longest drought since his rookie season. All three of his goals on the trip came at even strength.
“He’s a complete goal scorer,” said Kerfoot. “You know that. We all know that. He can score in just about any way you can put the puck in the net. He’s got great hands. He gets his stick on a lot of pucks. He battles hard to get to those areas and he’s able to really dig pucks out of the front of the net, which is key because there’s always loose pucks around there and he always seems to get the puck on his stick in those situations. And then he’s got great hands in front of the net. He can make people look silly. There’s not many guys who can beat goalies from the outside and he’s one of them so there’s not much more you can ask for out of a goal scorer.”
After undergoing surgery on his left wrist in the summer and missing the first three games of the regular season, Matthews needed some time to get his touch and feel back. Now, after his three-goal outburst in California, Matthews is up to 10 on the season, which is tied for the team lead with Tavares.
“He just does it all,” said Campbell. “Some of it’s just the touch. Some of it’s the hand-eye coordination. You see him knocking down pucks all over the ice and creating chances, taking pucks away, knocking them down or stick lifting guys. It’s really just fun to watch him and that line’s buzzing for us.”
That line currently includes Michael Bunting. Since being promoted to left wing on the Matthews line, he has produced two goals and four assists in four games.
“It’s been great,” the 26-year-old rookie said. “I hang out with both those guys pretty often off the ice so to play with them on the ice, it’s a lot of fun. I just try and get open, try to retrieve pucks and let them play with their magic. Right now, we’re rolling and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Mitch Marner set up Bunting for a goal on a two-on-one rush on Sunday.
“Mitch has great vision,” Bunting said. “Probably one of the best visions in the NHL so I know whenever it’s on his stick, I just have to find those soft spots and he’ll find me. He made a helluva pass for my goal.”
Bunting only had two even-strength assists during a nine-game run on the top line earlier this season. He looks a lot more comfortable now.
“He is more comfortable,” Keefe agreed. “While on the surface playing with players of that calibre is somewhat easier, there are some challenges that come with it that are more difficult than playing lower in the lineup. Some of that is mental — in fact, a lot of it is probably mental. That takes some time, especially for a player that is still really trying to establish himself in the league and trying to get comfortable in the league. That is part of why we reset him a little bit going back down with the expectation that he would move back up. He has gotten his opportunity here and I think he has done a good job.”
Bunting says he’s now more confident making plays with the puck alongside Matthews and Marner. He’s never been shy on the bench, though. Bunting constantly runs his mouth during games whether talking to teammates or opposing players.
“Oh, it’s great,” said Matthews. “I played with Matthew Tkachuk [at the U.S. National Development Program] so I’m kind of used to it. I like that. We’re just always communicating, making it clear what we’re seeing out there, what we want from each other and always trying to get a better feel for what we’re looking for.”
Lines at Leafs practice on Tuesday:
Bunting – Matthews – Marner
Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander
Engvall – Kampf – Anderson
Ritchie – Spezza – Simmonds
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin – Dermott
Clifford – Liljegren
Sportsnet announces revised schedule for postponed NHL games – Sportsnet.ca
Sportsnet and the NHL have announced changes to the broadcast schedule for the 2021-22 NHL season. The changes account for a large number of games that were postponed in recent weeks due to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the league.
As a result, the following updates have been made to Sportsnet’s national and regional broadcast schedules. Please note that all times are Eastern.
For the most up-to-date broadcast schedule, please visit our TV Listings page.
For a complete list of every game rescheduled by the NHL on Wednesday, click here.
Monday, Jan. 31
New Jersey at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, Feb. 7
Carolina at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Rogers Hometown Hockey)
New Jersey at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Rogers Hometown Hockey)
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Chicago at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Vegas at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Saturday, Feb. 12
Columbus at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Boston at Ottawa, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)
Toronto at Vancouver, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Winnipeg at Nashville, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
NY Islanders at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Sunday, Feb. 13
Buffalo at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Ottawa at Washington, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)
Monday, Feb. 14
Toronto at Seattle, 9 p.m., Sportsnet
Chicago at Winnipeg, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West
Edmonton at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Edmonton at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 16
Minnesota at Winnipeg, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Anaheim at Calgary, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 17
Anaheim at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19
St. Louis at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet and CityTV (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Boston at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hockey Night in Canada)
Seattle at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Sunday, Feb. 20
Minnesota at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Monday, Feb. 21
Toronto at Montreal, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Seattle at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 7
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Edmonton at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, April 4
Toronto at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, April 18
Calgary at Chicago, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Dallas at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Wednesday, April 27
Montreal at NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Tuesday, Feb. 8
Vegas at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Wednesday, Feb. 9
NY Islanders at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Thursday, Feb. 10
Toronto at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Friday, Feb. 11
NY Islanders at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Columbus at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Thursday, Feb. 17
Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Saturday, Feb. 19
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Monday, Feb. 21
Winnipeg at Calgary, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)
Tuesday, April 19
Calgary at Nashville, 8 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Ottawa at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
'Strongest team in all of snowboarding': Canadian squad named for Beijing Olympics – CBC Sports
Canadian snowboarders brought home four medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The team looking to build on that number was announced by Canada Snowboard on Wednesday, including all four previous medallists — Sébastien Toutant (the lone gold medallist), Max Parrot, Mark McMorris and Laurie Blouin.
Joining them in slopestyle and big air are Darcy Sharpe, Brooke Voigt and Jasmine Baird. Meanwhile, the halfpipe team features Derek Livingston, Brooke D’Hondt and Elizabeth Hosking.
Missing from that list is Liam Brearley, the emerging 18-year-old who won a medal in all three disciplines at the 2020 Youth Olympics. Brearley, of Gravenhurst, Ont., was victim of a roster crunch, as Canada earned the maximum four quota spots in slopestyle and big air.
Megan Farrell and Arnaud Gaudet will compete in parallel giant slalom, while the snowboard cross squad includes Zoe Bergermann, Tess Critchlow, Meryeta O’Dine, Audrey McManiman, Eliot Grondin, Kevin Hill and Liam Moffatt.
CBC snowboard analyst Craig McMorris, the older brother of Mark McMorris, said the Canadians should be a force.
“I think it is the strongest team in all of snowboarding, especially in male slopestyle and big air with Max Parrot, Sebastien Toutant and Mark McMorris all returning for their third Games. The skill is there. And the veteran wisdom and experience is there as well,” he said.
The omission of Brearley reveals the overwhelming strength of the men’s slopestyle and big air squad. Toutant and McMorris both sit in the top five of World Snowboard’s slopestyle ranking, while Parrot is ranked first and McMorris fifth in big air.
Parrot pre-qualified for the Olympic team before the season began in October, with the stipulation that he remain in the top-30 of rankings. He has since not competed in World Cup races, freezing his ranking in place.
The final decision may have come down to Sharpe vs. Brearley, with each similarly ranked in the two disciplines.
“[Sharpe] was out for a long time and his points freeze, then he comes back and his points unfreeze but then he gets COVID so he can’t compete, and that was crucial in deciding the team. So I feel like it was an extremely, extremely tough job,” McMorris said.
WATCH | Mark McMorris discusses difficulties of qualifying in pandemic:
Parrot, the Bromont, Que., native who won slopestyle silver in 2018, is a recent cancer survivor.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 10 months after the Olympics but returned to competition less than a year later, winning X Games big air gold in the process.
Mark McMorris, the 28-year-old from Regina, enters his third Games looking to upgrade on the bronze he won each of the past two times — this time free of a near-fatal crash directly in his rearview mirror.
Toutant, 29, of L’Assomption, Que., experienced an eventful Pyeongchang Olympics as he recovered from a last-place finish in slopestyle to become the big air champion.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Returning Champions series features Sébastien Toutant:
Blouin back for more
On the women’s side, Blouin, 25, overcame some adversity in Pyeongchang herself after a crash in training left her participation in the Games at all in question.
But the Quebec City native bounced back in a big way en route to earning slopestyle silver.
“I’m really happy, it seems like 2018 was yesterday and now it’s crazy that we’re already looking ahead to the next Olympics,” Blouin said.
Along with McMorris and Sharpe, Blouin is set to compete at the winter X Games beginning Friday in Aspen, Colo., as part of her Olympic tuneup.
WATCH | Blouin takes slopestyle bronze at Calgary World Cup:
D’Hondt, 16, is projected to be the youngest Canadian athlete in Beijing.
“It doesn’t feel real yet. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and couldn’t be more excited to represent my country in Beijing,” D’Hondt said.
Meanwhile, Craig McMorris suggested that Baird, the 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., could be an emerging star for Canada.
“I don’t think she has the tricks to be on the podium yet, but she’s still super young. So I think after these Games, if she still keeps going and training at the rate she is and learning, I think she’ll definitely be a threat in 2026,” he said.
- Brooke D’Hondt — Calgary (halfpipe)
- Elizabeth Hosking — Longueuil, Que. (halfpipe)
- Megan Farrell — Richmond Hill, Ont. (parallel giant slalom)
- Jasmine Baird — Georgetown, Ont. (slopestyle/big air)
- Laurie Blouin— Québec City (slopestyle/big air)
- Brooke Voigt — Fort McMurray, Alta. (slopestyle/big air)
- Zoe Bergermann — Erin, Ont. (snowboard cross)
- Tess Critchlow — Big White, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Meryeta O’Dine — Prince George, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Audrey McManiman — St-Ambroise-de-Kildare, Que. (snowboard cross)
- Derek Livingston — Aurora, Ont. (halfpipe)
- Arnaud Gaudet — Montcalm, Que. (parallel giant slalom)
- Mark McMorris — Regina (slopestyle/big air)
- Max Parrot — Bromont, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
- Darcy Sharpe — Comox, B.C. (slopestyle/big air)
- Sébastien Toutant — L’Assomption, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
- Eliot Grondin — Sainte-Marie, Que. (snowboard cross)
- Kevin Hill — Vernon, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Liam Moffatt — Truro, N.S. (snowboard cross)
Shapovalov rallies to win second-round match at Australian Open – Sportsnet.ca
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov is heading to the third round of the Australian Open for the third time in the past four years after notching a come-from-behind victory on Wednesday.
Shapovalov survives in five
@denis_shapo prevails in an epic 7-6(6) 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 6-2 battle with Soonwoo Kwon after four hours and 25 minutes!#AusOpen #AO2022
: @wwos • @espn @eurosport @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/OvOtSIOMdh
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2022
The No. 14 seed, from Richmond Hill, Ont., rallied for a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-2 win over world No. 54 Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea.
The match lasted four hours 25 minutes.
After failing to convert on two set points in the third set, Shapovalov broke his opponent in the final game of the fourth set and did so again to take a 2-0 lead in the decider.
“It was difficult getting over the second and third set because I had a lot of chances in both sets,” Shapovalov said. “Lot of opportunities that just weren’t going my way. But I did a good job of flipping the script, kept fighting and I was really happy to get away with it.”
Shapovalov had 29 aces, 26 more than Kwon. The Canadian had 81 winners, but also made 77 unforced errors.
Shapovalov will face No. 23 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the third round. Shapovalov never has advanced past the third round at the first Grand Slam of the season.
No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal plays his second-round match on Thursday against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.
No Canadian women are left in the singles draw after Leylah Fernandez and Rebecca Marino lost in the first round on Tuesday.
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