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Salim Valji: Calgary Flames reach quarter mark dogged by familiar concerns – TSN



Perhaps Milan Lucic said it best.

On Monday, the 32-year-old Calgary winger, one of the team’s better forwards this season, was the latest Flame to get asked about the team’s up-and-down play thus far.

The introspective Lucic compared it to the famous Robert Louis Stevenson novella.

“I think it’s been a little, you know, Jekyll and Hyde,” he said before the team went on to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

“I think our good has been really good, but it hasn’t been there enough if you ask me for the first quarter of the season.”

Or, as Stevenson wrote in 1886 when referring to Mr. Hyde (and not to this version of the Calgary Flames):

“He gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point. He’s an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way.”

Through their first 15 games of the season, the two words that have been most used to describe the 2020-21 version of the Calgary Flames have been “competitive” and “consistency.”

Thus far, the team boasts an 8-6-1 record – fifth in the North Division, where the top four teams will make the postseason, and has yet to win more than three consecutive games.

More often than not, great efforts have been followed by poor ones. The latest example came last week. After defeating the Canucks 3-1 on Thursday night, they fired just four shots on goal in the game’s first period two nights later en route to a 3-1 loss while being outshot 46-19.

“We weren’t competitive,” a visibly upset head coach Geoff Ward said after the loss on Saturday night.

Veteran forward Sean Monahan once again referenced the team’s need to increase its compete level.

“That’s not a game we want,” he said.

Longtime captain Mark Giordano wouldn’t put a letter grade on the early part of the season, but again echoed the need for consistency.

“We’ve had moments where we’ve been good,” he said last week. “But we know we can get a way more consistent 60-minute game night in and night out. We’re trending in the right direction but we’re not quite there yet.”

Stellar goaltending masking poor play

One of the troubling early-season trends is the team’s over-reliance on goalie Jacob Markstrom.

The Swede has arguably been the most impactful free agent signing of any NHL team last off-season. He’s played the fourth-most minutes of any goalie this season, behind only fellow North Division goalies Frederik Andersen, Mikko Koskinen, and Connor Hellebuyck. Markstrom was the team’s lone bright spot on Saturday night, stopping 43 shots – the fourth-highest number of saves by a Flames goalie in a regulation defeat in team history.

“He’s won a lot of hockey games for us already, but we’ve got to help him out,” Dillon Dube said.

Compounding the Flames’ challenges are the struggles of former starter David Rittich, whose 0.857 save percentage ranks second-last among the 64 goalies who have played more than one game this season.

Rittich’s struggles have forced Ward and the team’s new goaltending department to play Markstrom more than intended early on this season.

Lack of depth scoring

While Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Elias Lindholm have produced offensively (and the line of Lucic – Mikael BacklundAndrew Mangiapane has been the team’s most effective trio in February), offensive production beyond those players has been in short supply.

Newcomers Dominik Simon, Joakim Nordstrom, and Josh Leivo have combined for two assists in 33 games. Dube has struggled at times playing with Matthew Tkachuk and Lindholm, with just four points in his past 10 games (though he looked great while reunited with Lucic and Sam Bennett on Monday night against Vancouver, scoring once while being assertive on the forecheck).

The Flames’ next 13 games see them play division leaders Montreal and Toronto just four times combined, the Ottawa Senators five times and the Edmonton Oilers three times, providing an opportunity for Calgary to potentially make up ground in the standings.


– One of the biggest issues for the Flames this season is their play in the first period. Their first period shot differential of -54 is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the lowest in the league. In the third period, the Flames’ goal differential of +6 is fourth-best, while their shot differential of +24 is fifth-highest.

– Something to watch for from the Vancouver Canucks: Two Flames players have used the term “full-court press” when referring to how they pressure teams in the neutral zone

– The North Division is seen as the most offensive of the four NHL divisions, but its defensive game is equally impressive, with Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal all ranking in the top-five in even-strength save percentage.

– As Ward continues to search for consistency, emotion, and competitiveness, it’s possible Brett Ritchie gets a look at some point. The 27-year-old, who’s shuttled between the roster, taxi squad, and AHL this season while on a one-year deal, could be effective in a fourth-line role. Last season, he was fourth among Boston Bruins forwards with 89 hits. From 2016-17 to 2018-19 with the Dallas Stars, he led the team in overall hits (451) and hits per game (11.84). Right now, the Flames rank 23rd (and last in the North Division) with 270 hits. Ritchie adds a dimension that’s clearly lacking with this group.

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5 things to know on for Wednesday, February 24, 2021: Tiger Woods, US-Canada relations, coronavirus quarantine hotels – CTV News



Canada has now administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 2.99 per cent of the country’s population. Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.

1. Tiger Woods injuries: Tiger Woods’ foundation said in a statement early Monday that the famous golfer is awake and responsive after doctors tried to stabilize “significant” injuries sustained in a car accident. 

2. Renewed partnership: In their first face-to-face virtual bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden have agreed to prioritize the fight against COVID-19, economic recovery following pandemic strain, and the global climate threat.  

3. Reopening factors: Canada’s chief public health officer says the timing of when Canada will return to some state of normalcy is not solely dependent on the country achieving mass vaccination.  

4. Quarantine hotels: A “significant portion” of travellers calling to book a quarantine hotel in Canada were doing so too far in advance, potentially tying up the lines for more urgent calls, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Tuesday.  

5. Racism allegations: An Indigenous woman in northern British Columbia is speaking out after she was allegedly mistreated at two hospitals while in labour, which she says lead to the death of her baby daughter.  

One more thing…

‘Write here’: Over the next few weeks, Canadian households will be receiving a free postcard from Canada Post, encouraging them to write to friends and relatives.   

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Quick Reaction: 76ers 109, Raptors 102 – Raptors Republic



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P. Siakam42 MIN, 22 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 9-18 FG, 1-6 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-

Siakam was aggressive from the jump tonight. He was looking for his own shot early and while that’s definitely something Raptors fans want to see from Spicy P, more often than not his shots were snuffed out by Embiid, who always seemed to be in the right place tonight on defense. But Siakam, like the rest of his teammates, had zero quit in him tonight. He kept working to get to his spots and continued to be aggressive despite his early woes, turning in a respectable 22, 6 & 7 on the evening.

F. VanVleet36 MIN, 12 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL, 4-14 FG, 2-5 3FG, 2-3 FT, 4 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

Fred took a lot of difficult, off balance shots tonight. He never really looked like himself out there on offense as he wasn’t able to create many opportunities for himself or his teammates until late in the second half. VanVleet kept himself on the court tonight with his defense and leadership, but I doubt he’s pleased with himself. It’s honestly surprising that the Raptors were able to keep it as close as they did with one of their highest usage guys having such a down night.

N. Powell35 MIN, 24 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 9-19 FG, 2-9 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -7 +/-

Death, taxes and first quarter Powell. Norm continued his piping hot start to games this season, hitting his first two corner triples of the night and totalling 10 points in the frame. Powell would quiet down after his early outburst, but following an atrocious no-call of a Ben Simmons foul on his 3rd quarter dunk attempt, Powell channelled his anger into fire. Streakiness can be a dangerous quality to possess in the NBA, but it proved to be a valuable one for Powell tonight, as his breakouts made him Toronto’s #1 option on offense.

D. Bembry24 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -8 +/-

Bembry continued his streak of playing really good, smart basketball this evening. He seems to always know when to push the ball in transition and whenever he did get out on the break tonight, he nearly always made the right play. He set up his teammates with some crafty looks and played his usual suffocating brand of defense.

O. Anunoby29 MIN, 10 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4-13 FG, 2-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

For such a long, explosive player, I would really like to see him crash the glass more often. He missed the mark on most of his scoring opportunities tonight, but it felt like there was real opportunity for him to dig himself out of that hole by making an effort to rebound. Unfortunately, OG felt otherwise.

A. Baynes29 MIN, 11 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 5-10 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -10 +/-

The big Aussie did a great job of working both the high and low post areas tonight while he was on the floor. He had some beautiful screen assists, fought hard on the glass, and most importantly did a brilliant job defending Joel Embiid (who is a legit MVP candidate), holding him to 3-13 shooting on the night. He also had a 2nd quarter throw down that caused Matt Devlin to loose control of his body. Phenomenal stuff.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 10 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -4 +/-

Boucher didn’t have his usual impact off the bench in this one, due in part to the physicality and aggression of Philadelphia’s bigs down low. He made several uncharacteristically bad decisions tonight with poor close outs, foolish passes. One to forget for Slim Duck.

T. Davis15 MIN, 9 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-9 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -6 +/-

Davis won’t end up on any highlight reel for his play tonight, but he did a good job of helping his team continue their momentum when he checked into the game. He knocked down a couple shots and provided his team with good minutes off the bench.

M. Thomas4 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

Nurse gave him a try in the 2nd quarter, but it wasn’t his best showing, as he went 0-1 and got beat a couple times on D during in his minutes. If Matt Thomas isn’t hitting his shots, he doesn’t really have a place on an NBA court.

Nick Nurse

It’s hard to beat a team two times in a row over a three day stretch during the regular season. It’s even harder when that team has the best record in the Eastern Conference. Considering the blowouts that teams who win the first game of a mini-series have been on the receiving end of this season, Nurse and his coaching staff did a damn good job of game planning for this one. There were several point when the wheels almost came off this thing, but Nurse recalibrated and responded during all of them. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the competition.

Things We Saw

  1. It’s easy to drag a team when they lose, but man, the Raptors played their asses off tonight. There were about a half dozen times when Toronto could’ve quit on themselves, including when they were down 12 with two minutes to go, but they kept their heads up for 48 minutes and competed. If they continue playing with this relentless determination, there’s no opponent that’s going to be glad to see them on their schedule.
  2. The Raptors did an excellent job of working for good shots tonight. They weren’t going in at the clip they would’ve liked, but their persistence to get to the rim kept them in this one until the bitter end. Toronto racked up 52 points in the paint on Tuesday night – that’s 22 more than the team with the 7’ 1” MVP candidate.
  3. Toronto didn’t show up for this one until the 2nd quarter began, giving up 37 points in the first 12 minutes. However, following that first frame disaster, they played maybe the best defense they have all season. The Raps put the clamps on in minutes 13-48 in Tampa on Tuesday night, holding their opponents to just 72 points in the final three quarters.

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Tiger Woods ‘awake, responsive and recovering’ after car crash –



LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods crashed his SUV on a sweeping, downhill road in the Los Angels suburbs Tuesday morning, and doctors tried to stabilize “significant” injuries to his right leg with rods and a combination of screws and pins.

Woods was driving to a television shoot when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side near a steep road known for wrecks, authorities said. Golf’s biggest star had to be pulled out through the windshield.

Woods’ foundation said in a statement he was awake, responsive and recovering in the hospital.

Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said Woods shattered the tibia and fibula bones of his lower right leg in multiple locations. Those injuries were stabilized with a rod in the tibia. Additional injuries to the bones in the foot and ankle required screws and pins, Mahajan said in a statement released on Woods’ Twitter account late Tuesday night.

The lengthy surgery also reduced swelling.

A resident near the accident site called 911. A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, the first on the scene, poked his head through a hole in the windshield to see Woods, his seatbelt fastened, sitting in the driver’s seat.

The single-car crash was another setback for Woods, the preeminent golfer of his generation who has spent the last decade in a cycle of injuries, self-inflicted personal problems and an arrest for DUI. Each time, he returned to the course and won.

Even at 45, Woods is among the more recognizable sports figures in the world and remains golf’s biggest draw. His 2019 Masters victory was seen as a transcendent comeback and further cemented his reputation for toughness and clutch performances. Briefly Tuesday, the world paused and worried that Woods might be critically injured or worse. As it became clear that his life wasn’t in danger, the obvious question came out: Can he play golf again?

“As if his body hasn’t endured enough,” Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Florida. “I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life.”

No charges were filed, police said there was no evidence he was impaired and no one else was injured.

It was the 10th surgery for Woods, who has suffered knee, back and neck problems for more than a decade.

Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as tournament host of the Genesis Invitational that ended Sunday, and then to film content for his sponsor, Discovery-owned GOLFTV. He was not playing while recovering from a fifth back surgery on Dec. 23.

Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median, crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. Police said Woods was alert as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the airbags deployed and the inside of the SUV stayed mostly intact, which “gave him a cushion to survive the crash.”

There was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odour of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and found none. They didn’t say how fast he was driving.

The crash happened about 7:15 a.m. on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale suburbs. Gonzalez, the first to get to the wreck, said he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and crashes are common.

“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said.

Thoughts and prayers have come from everywhere — Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who has played golf with Woods and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.

Woods, who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, had said during the Genesis Invitational television broadcast that he was awaiting one more test from his Dec. 23 microdiscectomy surgery before learning if he could expand his work. Asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11, Woods replied, “God, I hope so.”

Woods has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which led to enormous increases in prize money.

He feared he would never play again until fusion surgery on his lower spine in April 2017. He returned a year later, and won the 2018 Tour Championship.

He played patient, calculating golf as other contenders wilted on the final nine holes to win the 2019 Masters, his first major in 11 years. The previous one was the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines, on a left leg with shredded knee ligaments and a double stress fracture. He had reconstructive surgery a few days later.

Woods last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.

The news put a damper on the World Golf Championship in Florida, where Woods was eligible to play.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Justin Thomas, No. 3 in the world and among the younger players whom Woods has embraced. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.”

This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months.

In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.

Woods hasn’t won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he’s reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. Besides his back surgeries, he’s had four surgeries on his left knee.

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