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Saturday’s Canucks game against Senators postponed – The Province

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Saturday’s game at Rogers Arena was supposed to be played before a 50-per-cent capacity crowd, in line with current B.C. restrictions

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The Vancouver Canucks, eager to return to the ice and get at least one game under their belts before a daunting five-game road trip against some of the National Hockey League’s best teams, had those hopes dashed Friday.

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Saturday’s game against the 30th-overall place Ottawa Senators has been called off.

For the Canucks, on a nine-game unbeaten-in-regulation-time streak under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, it means they will have gone 10 days without playing a game when they open that trip in Sunrise, Fla., on Tuesday against the high-flying Florida Panthers, a top-three overall club.

Both the Canucks and Senators are healthy enough to play but the league is citing financial reasons — public health officials have restricted capacity at Rogers Arena to 50 per cent — as the reason why yet another game is being postponed.

Canucks winger Tanner Pearson said the decision to postpone another game was frustrating. A game against the New York Islanders scheduled for Wednesday was previously postponed, meaning the club’s last game came last Saturday in a 5-2 win over the host Seattle Kraken.

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“It sucks, to be honest. Practise all week and then try to gear up for a game again and then that one gets postponed. And now … another five days until the next one,” he said.

“It’s a business, I think we all get that part. But yeah, when you’ve got a full, healthy squad here, it gets frustrating.”

Tanner Pearson of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal by linemate Conor Garland (not in photo) during the third period of their last game, a 5-2 win over the host Seattle Kraken last Saturday.
Tanner Pearson of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal by linemate Conor Garland (not in photo) during the third period of their last game, a 5-2 win over the host Seattle Kraken last Saturday. Photo by Steph Chambers /Getty Images

Captain Bo Horvat agreed with Pearson, but said the players weren’t angry, just frustrated.

“At the end of the day, we just want to play games,” Horvat said. “Obviously, we want to make sure everyone is healthy and safe and is feeling well enough to come and play. We’re just coming to the rink and doing our job. Trying to get better every day. It’s not up to us whether we play or not.”

As a frustrated Canucks captain Bo Horvat puts it, ‘It’s not up to us whether we play or not.’
As a frustrated Canucks captain Bo Horvat puts it, ‘It’s not up to us whether we play or not.’ Photo by Rich Lam /PNG

Saturday’s game at Rogers Arena was supposed to be played before a 50-per-cent capacity crowd, in line with current B.C. restrictions

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“COVID-19 cases continue to increase at a rapid rate, and we all need to adjust and be flexible as the pandemic evolves,” Michael Doyle, president of business operations for Canucks Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement.

“We hoped to play (Saturday), but we are at an important point of the pandemic, and given the size of the event everyone involved believe this is the right decision. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”


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A Canucks spokesperson told Postmedia the team consulted with the league and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on the state of the pandemic in the province as part of the decision to postpone Saturday’s game: “We originally explored rescheduling this game back when the Jan. 5 game (vs. the Islanders) was postponed, but it wasn’t possible at the time due to complexity with the NHL’s schedule,” he said. “Ultimately everyone felt it was the right decision for the NHL to postpone (Saturday’s) game.”

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The Vancouver Warriors, the National Lacrosse League team owned by Canucks Sports and Entertainment, are still playing a home game Friday night.

Boudreau said he shared his players’ frustrations.

“We’re not happy with it,” he said. “It is what it is, but we want to play.”

Head coach Bruce Boudreau (left, with assistant coach Scott Walker) says he shares his players’ frustration at not being able to play Saturday.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau (left, with assistant coach Scott Walker) says he shares his players’ frustration at not being able to play Saturday. Photo by Jeff Vinnick /PNG

This is the seventh postponement since Dec. 18 for the Canucks, who have played just three games in the last 21 days.

NHL players are no longer taking part in next month’s Winter Olympics, so the 15-day break in the schedule that was originally set to allow selected players to go to Beijing will now be used to reschedule the bulk of games that have been postponed for COVID-19 protocol pressures and crowd capacity restrictions.

“Somewhere, somehow, it’s all going to catch up with you,” Boudreau said, referring to the schedule pressure his team is likely to come under.

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“We’re always concerned. We’re all impatient and we’d sure like to know what the schedule’s going to look like in February and beyond. Hopefully it’s not too difficult. A lot of the games we’re going to be missing are home games, so at least we’ll be home for them.”

The Senators were also scheduled to play in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg in the next week, but the NHL also postponed next week’s game in Winnipeg, citing crowd-capacity restrictions. The Manitoba government isn’t allowing any fans in the stands at the Canada Life Centre, the Jets’ home arena.

Both Alberta games are being played with capacity restricted to 50 per cent.

The NHL said the games will be rescheduled to a future day “when such restrictions may be eased or lifted.”

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The Senators were meant to open their road trip Thursday in Seattle, but that game was postponed earlier this week because Ottawa suddenly had nine players on the COVID-19 protocol list. Most of those players have since been cleared from the list.

From a scheduling perspective, having games in Vancouver and Seattle both postponed makes the logistics around another western road trip for the Senators easier to swallow.

The Canucks are scheduled to head to the U.S. for their five-game road trip that features games against the Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators.

The Senators have already had 11 games postponed this season, making Saturday’s the 12th. Only one of their games so far has been rescheduled.

Before the rash of postponements, Saturday’s game was meant to be the 40th of the season for Ottawa, the 41st of the year for the Canucks.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

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TRAIKOS: The NHL apparently wants McDavid and the Oilers to miss the playoffs – Toronto Sun

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Edmonton’s playoff hopes took a serious hit on Thursday, with the 13th-place team losing 6-0 to Florida. It was the Oilers’ seventh straight loss — and their 13th loss in the past 15 games — and it put them six points back of San Jose for the final Wild Card spot in the West.

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The team needs Evander Kane more than ever, as well as an upgrade in net and possibly a new voice behind the bench.

Based on what lies ahead, it could also use a ventilator.

On Wednesday, the league released its revised schedule for all the games that had been postponed due to COVID-19. Mostly, the NHL’s schedule makers just crammed a bunch of games (95 in total) during the three-week window that was originally blocked off for the Olympic break.

Now, there is no break. And for the Oilers, who play their final 46 games over 98 days — roughly a game every other day for the next three months — there’s little chance to take even the slightest of breaths.

Seriously, what did Connor McDavid ever do to Gary Bettman to get him so angry? Edmonton’s path to the post-season is not just an uphill climb — it’s now also littered with potholes, as well as several back-to-backs and a couple of insane stretches where they will play three games in four nights.

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Even if they manage to survive this gauntlet and sneak into the playoffs, what’s the point if they won’t have anything left in the tank?

Of course, it’s not just Edmonton that will be challenged in the weeks ahead.

Every team got a bunch of games dumped on their lap next month. Winnipeg now has 10 games in 17 days, while Montreal will play eight games in 15 days.

All it means is that February, which typically represented the dog days of the calendar might now be the most pivotal month on the schedule.

Depth is going to be tested like never before. You better have a backup goalie, because you’re going to need him. And you better have a fourth line that plays more than six minutes a night.

For Edmonton, this could be just a little problematic.

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The Oilers don’t have a backup goalie. These days, they don’t even have a No. 1 that they trust. As for spreading the minutes around, Oilers’ defenceman Darnell Nurse is averaging the second-most ice time of any player in the NHL, while Leon Draisaitl and McDavid are logging more minutes than any other forward.

With the team chasing the pack — and playing from behind in most games — there’s little chance that their ice time will be decreased. If anything, it’s probably going to be going up, especially if Dave Tippett is still coaching.

After all, the Oilers can’t afford to have another losing month. They can barely afford to have another losing week.

With so many games scheduled in so few days, the playoff picture is coming into focus faster than ever. By the end of the month, we should have a clear indication of where teams stand heading into the March 21 trade deadline.

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That is, if any teams are left standing by then.

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*****

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Record: 24-10-3, 51 points (3rd in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: From Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, Toronto plays 12 games in 29 days. But that is still less than the 14 games they played in the month of November.

What it means: The Leafs got off real easy. They now have two back-to-backs scheduled, but one is a home-and-home against Devils — meaning both teams will be at a disadvantage — and the other features the 10th-place Blue Jackets and the last-place Canadiens If anything, this could be Toronto’s chance to put points in the bank.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Record: 11-20-2, 24 points (9th in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 15

The result: The Senators’ schedule looks completely different. They now have 10 new games in February — including two that were originally scheduled for April and got moved up. Too bad fans won’t be allowed in the building for most of those games.

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What it means: Though Ottawa is probably not going to make the playoffs, there had been talk that the Senators would be playing games in May. That didn’t happen. But there are 16 games in April, at a time when the 31st overall team could be playing meaningless hockey.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Record: 8-25-6, 22 points (10th in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 12

The result: During a three-week span in February, Montreal will play eight games in 15 days. All but one of those games is at home, which might not be a good thing based on how the team has been playing.

What it means: Not a whole lot. It’s a pity the NHL even bothered to reschedule Montreal’s games. All it does is delay the inevitable.

CALGARY FLAMES

Record: 18-11-6, 42 points (5th in Pacific)

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Games rescheduled: 10

The result: The revised schedule includes three back-to-backs in February and increases the number of games they’ll play in the month from four to 11. But Calgary also gets seven straight games at home.

What it means: Compared to the teams they’re jockeying with for playoff positions, the Flames got off relatively easy. Their toughest stretch is a back-to-back against Vegas and Toronto. But they are book-ended with games against Arizona and the New York Islanders, which should allow Calgary to breathe while others might be running out of breath.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Record: 18-18-3, 39 points (6th in Pacific)

Games rescheduled: 7

The result: Vancouver will play six of the seven rescheduled games during what was supposed to be the Olympic break (Feb. 7 to 22). All but one of those games are at home. Consider it payback for what the league put the Canucks through a year ago.

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What it means: If you were hoping the Canucks had a shot at grabbing a wild card spot, you’re probably feeling optimistic right now. Sure, they still have to win those games. But considering that the team is 10-3-1 since Bruce Boudreau stepped behind the bench, would it surprise anyone if Vancouver ends up with the most points out of the Canadian teams out West?

EDMONTON OILERS

Record: 18-16-2, 38 points (7th in Pacific)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: Someone in the league office does not appear to be an Oilers fan. How else do you explain that Edmonton now comes out of the All-Star Game (in which Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both attending) and immediately plays eight games in 13 days? Or that the team twice plays three games in four nights?

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What it means: Kiss those playoffs goodbye! Seriously, this schedule is going to reveal what the Oilers are made of. This has already been a difficult season for McDavid and Draisaitl, who are feeling the pressure like never before. Now, they have to chase a playoff spot while running on fumes, with the team staring down a five-game road swing at the end of February against Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Philadelphia and Chicago.

WINNIPEG JETS

Record: 17-13-6, 40 points (5th in Central)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: From Feb. 11 to Feb. 21, Winnipeg plays seven games in 11 days.

What it means: After playing six times in the past four weeks, the Jets are going to be busy in February. There are now 12 games scheduled, with 11 of them coming in the final three weeks of the month. The team will pretty much be playing every other night — or every night, considering there are three back-to-backs also scheduled. And because six of those games are against divisional rivals, this should be a make-or-break month for Winnipeg.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Trakos

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Bombers sign All-Star OT Bryant – TSN

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The two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed another cornerstone player on Friday, inking All-Star offensive tackle Stanley Bryant to a one-year contract. 

The 35-year-old was selected as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for a third time in his career this season in addition to being named to his sixth All-Star team.

The Bombers also signed All-Star linebacker Adam Bighill as well as starting quarterback and Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros to extensions this week. 

Bryant had played in 103 consecutive games for the Bombers since arriving in Winnipeg in 2015 before that streak came to an end in November. 

The East Carolina product also won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014. 

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Soccer-Brazil to stop unvaccinated footballers playing in top leagues

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The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on Friday players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in this year’s league championship,

The CBF said it was in constant contact with health bodies and had sent an updated list of requirements to member clubs.

“One of these is the obligation to present a full vaccination certificate against COVID-19 to the CBF’s Medical Commission,” it said in a statement.

The top four national divisions kick off in the second week of April.

Brazil coach Tite has said he was not selecting Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi for his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers because he was not fully vaccinated.

The issue of athletes’ stance on vaccines has dominated sports headlines recently after tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was deported ahead of the Australian Open.

 

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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