Connect with us


Jack Campbell stabilizes the crease, Toronto Maple Leafs snap losing skid with win over Flames



The Toronto Maple Leafs outplayed the Calgary Flames at even strength for the second night in a row. This time around, they had Jack Campbell in net, who put on a stellar performance en route to a 2-0 Leafs victory.

It’s obvious what the major storyline is coming out of this game, especially considering Frederik Andersen’s poor run of play recently. Goaltending typically dictates the outcome of hockey games, so when a strong team finally starts to get some saves, it makes a big difference.

Without further ado, let’s dive into some individual player grades for tonight’s game. I wonder who’s going to be ranked the highest…

5 Stars

Game Puck: Jack Campbell (G, #30) — If there’s one Leaf who deserves a stick-tap tonight, it’s Jack Campbell.

What stood out is that most of his saves tonight were composed. He was deflecting pucks off of his blocker into the corner and controlling his rebounds well on point shots.

Then he reached back into his bag of tricks for another highlight-reel save.

A night like this would’ve been special even if Andersen had been playing well lately. The fact that he hasn’t is going to give Campbell some real runway moving forward.

It’s Soupy’s net to lose now.

Jake Muzzin (LD, #8) — It feels boring to keep saying “Muzzin holds the line well” in these postgame report cards, but then you’ll see a goal created off of a smart pinch and it’s easier to see the value of holding the blueline.

Muzzin makes plays like these all the time, except they usually don’t lead directly to a goal. It’s little plays like these that add up over time, resulting in the Leafs controlling the run of play when their best 5v5 defenseman is on the ice. And yes, that’s Muzzin.

He played 25 minutes tonight, most of which came against Matthew Tkachuk. The two were battling all night long in front of the net and along the boards. In the end, Muzzin came out on top with respect to shots, goals, and penalty differential.

Morgan Rielly (LD, #44) — It’s so much fun watching the Rielly-Brodie pair share the ice with Matthews-Marner. The fifth player in that situation will head to the front of the net, whether it’s Zach Hyman, Joe Thornton, or Wayne Simmonds tonight.

The other four skaters are in constant motion, which opens up passing lanes for a player like Rielly to do some damage. Toronto outshot Calgary 10-0 and out-chanced them 5-0 when Matthews and Rielly were on the ice together.

Rielly also took out two Flames players like they were bowling pins on the Hyman goal, but the clip I’m more interested in showing you is a defensive decision he made in the third period.

Understanding the game state is important here. The Morgan Rielly we know and love chases after that loose puck 10 times out of 10, but knowing his team is up by two goals in the third period, he makes the smart decision to not get burned for an odd-man rush late in his shift.

Jason Spezza (RW, #19) — If you want to watch his goal again, scroll back up to the Muzzin section. Spezza still has a wicked release, a nifty set of hands, and the passing ability to find open players backdoor. It’s why he still leads the Leafs in Points per 60 — at even strength and on the power play.

He’d be on pace for 48 points in an 82 game season, despite averaging only 10:24 a night. That’s insane for an NHL player earning the league minimum.

4 Stars

Zach Hyman (RW, #11) — His most memorable shift of the night was when he harassed Rasmus Andersson on the forecheck, forced a turnover, and then did this right afterward.

Hyman finished the game with seven chances from the slot, including this insurance goal.

TJ Brodie (RD, #78) — One of the things I love most about Brodie’s game is how he handles elite puck carriers in one-on-one situations. Here’s a quick look at him defending Johnny Gaudreau in open space.

Kevin Bieksa loves to talk about “quiet feet” when you’re defending the rush. Brodie does a great shop of keeping Gaudreau in front of him without giving him too much room, all while keeping his feet quiet in the middle of the ice.

Brodie also made a few slick passes under pressure to beat the infamous Darryl Sutter forecheck, similar to last night’s game. It is worth noting Brodie jumped over the boards a tad early, leading to a Too Many Men penalty that Leafs fans certainly weren’t upset with on the internet.

Mitch Marner (RW, #16) — In my post-game tweet where I crowdsource Leafs fans’ opinions, I noticed a few people didn’t like Marner’s game tonight. Personally, I thought he looked great.

He was making creative plays off the rush right from the get go. In the offensive zone, he pulled off a few shifty moves, including a spin move to create space for himself. My favourite offensive play of his was this pass across to Matthews on the power play.

Throw in some stellar penalty killing, including a drawn penalty to end Calgary’s power play, and I’d say that’s a pretty good night for Marner.

3 Stars

Auston Matthews (C, #34) — That clip above says it all. Matthews generated a team-high eight chances from the slot in this game. He did have some trouble getting around Chris Tanev, who looks like he’s turned back the clock this season.

The one thing I wanted to note about Matthews tonight is that his stick-handling looked better. Nagging wrist injuries are naturally going to impact a hockey player’s shooting and puck-handling abilities, which is why it’s nice to see Matthews progressing in both of those departments lately.

He’s still not 100%, but he’s getting closer.

Wayne Simmonds (LW, #24) — When you’re evaluating a player like Wayne Simmonds, I think you have to ask yourself, “What is he supposed to provide as a player?” Are you expecting him to receive passes at an A-plus level in the offensive zone? Probably not, because he really struggled in that department tonight.

If we accept that’s not what we’re looking, how about we ask ourselves, “Did he bring his team energy tonight?” Unequivocally, the answer to that question is yes. I’m not sure how to measure it, but when Simmonds is running into opponents on every shift and hyping up his teammates from the bench, you can see it has a tangible impact on the rest of the team.

Do I still qualify as a nerd if I believe in momentum?

Justin Holl (RD, #3) — Leading his team in ice time tonight, Holl played 25:27 of solid 200-foot hockey. He was activating on the breakout to give his forwards an extra option heading up the ice. Holl also did well to limit Calgary’s rush opportunities, getting his stick on pucks in transition.

MikhEngvall — It’s hard for me to separate these two in my head. Both Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall have a knack for getting their long sticks on loose pucks in the offensive zone. They also have a tendency to shoot from too far away, but they make up for it with their relentless puck pursuit.

When it comes to Engvall specifically, sometimes I find myself asking “What is this?”

A player who has the tools to do that should probably be creating more offense. I know he’s already 24 years old, but does anyone else see a raw hockey player that could develop into something more offensively?

Coaching Staff — Credit where credit is due: The Leafs have continued to play stellar 5v5 hockey lately. It’s certainly nice to get some goaltending, but the bigger takeaway here for me is that the Leafs significantly outplayed Sutter’s Flames in back-to-back games.

Now, we should probably touch on the power play getting a bit predictable.

It’s good that the Leafs recognize Matthews is their primary option, but when the opposing team is overcommitting to it, you need to go with option number two or three.

In football, if the opponent was double-teaming your #1 receiver, you’d look to take advantage of the open space on the other side of the field. I think the Leafs could benefit from that mentality when teams load up on Matthews.

2 Stars

John Tavares (C, #91) — The frustrating part about assessing Tavares’ performance is that he was fantastic on the power play, but underwhelming (again) at even strength. At 5v4, he was able to generate lots of quality chances from the slot in that “bumper” role. He even got a great rush opportunity on the power play.

At 5v5, he wasn’t able to accomplish much of anything in transition. Tavares is still great in tight spaces lower in the DZ or OZ, but if you watch him closely when play is moving up the ice, he hasn’t looked nearly as dangerous this season as in years past.

Alex Galchenyuk (LW, #12) — I’m rooting for the Alex Galchenyuk experiment as much as you are, but I didn’t think he looked great tonight. Aside from a few decent passes at his own blueline, Galchenyuk was a liability in transition to my eye-test, losing the puck on a few different occasions in the neutral zone.

What’s weird is that puck-carrying has always been a strength of Galchenyuk’s.

That 81 on the graphic indicates that Galchenyuk’s Controlled Zone Entry % ranks in the 81st percentile among NHL forwards over the past four seasons. He’s good at carrying the puck up the ice — he just wasn’t tonight.

Alex Kerfoot (RW, #15) — Aside from a breakaway on a Rielly stretch pass, this was a pretty quiet night from Kerfoot. He did have a nice little rush in the third period, although it ended with a soft wrister from distance. Missing the empty net as the clock expired might have been the perfect microcosm of his time as a Maple Leaf.

Joe Thornton (LW, #97) — Earlier in the game, Thornton was making a few heady passes to reverse play to the weak side. Unfortunately, he faded as the game went on, which makes sense for a 41-year-old playing on the second half of a back-to-back.

In related news: why is Joe Thornton playing on the second half of a back-to-back?

Zach Bogosian (RD, #22) — He did his job in that he boxed out opposing forwards in front of his net. The issue was that his pairing spent so much time on defense, getting outshot at 5v5 despite sheltered usage. Personally, I’d put more of that on his partner.

1 Star

Travis Dermott (LD, #23) — I’ve spilled so much ink analyzing Dermott’s game, to the point where I get really frustrated when he has stretches of play like this. Anyone who watched his first few games as a Leaf knows he’s a dynamic skater, but he hasn’t been able to use it to effectively start the breakout lately.

I remain a Dermott truther for various reasons, but he isn’t helping my case with games like these.

William Nylander (RW, #88) — This was one of Those Nights for Nylander. He didn’t look super engaged without the puck, which is a big part of the reason his line didn’t have it very often tonight.

Heat Map

Here’s a quick look at where each team’s shots were coming from at even strength, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

The Leafs generated 56 percent of the shots and 60 percent of the chances at 5v5. For the second night in a row, they controlled the run of play against Sutter’s Flames, except this time, they got goaltending.

Game Score

Game score is a metric developed by The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn to measure single-game performance. You can read more about it here.

Tweets of the Night

This one was technically tweeted during the day, but it was so funny I just had to post it here.

If you’ve ever scrolled through Leafs Twitter, this is 100% accurate.

This was legitimately one of the coolest moments of the season. You’ve got to love that kind of passion from Simmonds.

Maybe the most obscure tweet to come across my timeline tonight. Also possibly my favourite.

Is that good?

Yeah, it doesn’t seem super controversial to play the better goaltender right now.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Source:- Maple Leafs Hot Stove

Source link

Continue Reading


Cleveland changes MLB team nickname to Guardians after months of discussion –



Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ball club announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names that are considered racist.

The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.

Social unrest spurred name change

Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.

Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before Cleveland hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people.

“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us.”

In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.

The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.

But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.

Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices — referred to as guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

The team’s colours will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.

The change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its name before the 2020 season and said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


LIVE BLOG: Opening ceremony kicks off 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – Global News



After being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has officially kicked off.

The Olympic Games opening ceremony is typically a chance for competing countries and athletes to show off their pride and culture, but this year will be a little different.

Normally held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will have international athletes parade around a near-empty venue after it was announced fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.

Read more:
Fireworks light up Tokyo sky as 2020 Olympics officially begin amid pandemic

Athletes from around the world, including Canada, are taking part in the ceremony for the Summer Games, which will run until Aug. 8.

Canada has sent 370 athletes to the Olympics, the nation’s largest delegation since 1984.

Click to play video: 'Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games'

Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games

Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games

But only 30 to 40 athletes are marching into the Olympic Stadium, the Canadian Olympic Committee has previously said, saying athletes aren’t allowed into the Olympic Village until five days before they compete.

Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to join flagbearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.

Read more:
Canada at the Tokyo Olympics — Who’s competing, attending opening ceremony Friday

The ceremony’s theme is “United by Emotion,” as officials are aspiring to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, express gratitude and admiration for the efforts made over the past year, and also bring a sense of hope for the future, the Olympics website says.

Despite all the difficulties the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games amid a global pandemic, president Thomas Bach previously said he believes the ceremonies will be a moment of “joy and relief.”

The event runs from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET

You can follow along here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Canadiens’ salary cap situation heading into the draft & free agency – Habs Eyes on the Prize



Some of the biggest stories of the off-season so far have revolved around the Montreal Canadiens. First, Shea Weber’s hockey future was thrown into doubt by reports of a serious injury, and the belief now is that his career is “probably” over, according to general manager Marc Bergevin.

The key bit of news when the Seattle Kraken expansion draft was approaching was that Carey Price was dealing with a less serious injury, but would nevertheless potentially miss the start of the new season. As a result he waived his no-movement clause and was available to be selected by the new team.

Seattle shied away from the $10.5-million cap hit, however, leaving Price unclaimed and free to re-enable his NMC to stay in Montreal.

Salary cap information via CapFriendly
Justin Blades/EOTP

That cap hit remains the largest on the team. Technically Weber’s is the second-highest on the books at almost $8 million, but he will likely be put on long-term injured reserve. For the intents and purposes of this graphic, removing his slice from the chart serves the same purpose; that cap space is free to be spent on other players.

There are six defencemen under contract for next season who played on the team in 2020-21, but Bergevin will want someone more of Weber’s calibre to take top-four minutes. Expect that to be one of his top priorities, and the first-round pick in tonight’s draft could be in play to acquire such a blue-liner.

He also needs to get a centreman to take big minutes against top players, because it’s sounding like Phillip Danault won’t be back with the team. Nick Suzuki has established himself as the top offensive option down the middle, but the team will be trying to add a number-two to back him up.

We also heard on Thursday that Jonathan Drouin is expected to play next year, so there are now eight forwards signed for next season, with five to six more to go. Restricted free agents Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen can probably be re-signed relatively inexpesively, the former getting a birdge deal hoping to cash in a few seasons from now, and the latter a reliable bottom-six player. Corey Perry may also be offered a deal, but his interest in sticking around may depend on how Bergevin is able to restore the team’s contender status via his other moves.

There is a bit more than $21 million available to make this all happen. A small portion of the available space is eaten up by a bonus overage penalty the Canadiens were handed, but having your young players perform too well in the post-season is far from the worst problem an NHL team is facing. There are more young prospects who could step into lesser roles without needing big financial commitments, so there could be a major splash — or two — made in the coming days.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading