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Smith weighs lineup changes after 7-1 loss

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TSN.ca Staff

It appears changes could be coming to the Ottawa Senators lineup after a 7-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

The Senators, who dropped to 1-4-1 on the early season, are winless since defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in their opening game on Jan. 15 and have been outscored 17-5 over their past three games.

“We got some guys that maybe are taking for granted positions in the National Hockey League,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith said. “We’ve got to find the right combination and we’ve got to give some other guys opportunity to see if they want to play a little harder than some of the guys that are playing now.”

Smith added that he considered pulling Matt Murray after the second period for a second straight start, but elected to keep the off-season addition in net. Murray allowed seven goals on 35 shots, including three on 14 shots in the third period.

“Certainly he didn’t have a very good game, but he’s got to work through it and find a way to battle for us there,” Smith said of Murray. “He’s no different than any other player and he’s got to find his groove here.”

Murray has a 1-3-1 record this season with a .862 save percentage and a 4.47 goals-against average. Backup Marcus Hogberg, who got his first start of the season on Saturday, is 0-1 with a .875 save percentage and a 3.80 GAA.

The Senators, who sit last in the North Division with three points, will face the Canucks again on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Edmonton to continue their current road trip.

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Jets’ resiliency contributing to team’s success in close games – Sportsnet.ca

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WINNIPEG – Perhaps it was fitting the topic of resilience was on the plate of Paul Maurice in the hours leading up to puck drop.

The head coach of the Winnipeg Jets couldn’t have predicted his high-scoring team would only be able to generate two shots on goal in the third period of a tie game and 19 overall, forced to hang on for dear life, just to get to overtime and to bank the single point that accompanies it.

Maurice couldn’t have known he would have to dig into his bag of tricks to employ the aggressive three-forward approach to start the bonus hockey portion of the evening – a strategy that has now worked perfectly twice after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime triumph over the Canadiens that came 36 seconds into the extra session.

“It’s a guarantee that adversity is coming and it’s a guarantee that stretches of time, whether it’s a period or a game or a week, that’s going to happen to you in the NHL,” Maurice said after the morning skate. “And your ability to have resilient leaders that come in the next day after a tough day and go back to work and not let themselves slip into despair or worse, disbelief in the fact that you can win. That would be the intangible that I think I value the most.”

Instead of lamenting an off night, the Jets could take a deep breath, knowing they had found a way to win when they clearly weren’t at their best.

That’s ultimately what building resilience is all about.

“You’ve got to go through a little bit of adversity. You’ve got to fail a little bit and you’ve got to realize what it feels like to lose and to lose tight games or big games,” said Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who was an essential piece in the process, turning aside 40 of 41 shots on goal that he faced. “You’ve got to remember how bad it feels and maybe that gives you a little boost and a little bit of extra energy when you really need it.”

Although he didn’t reference the specifics in his statement, it seemed clear that part of what Hellebuyck was referencing were the two earlier losses the Jets suffered in the final 10 seconds of regulation time.

Those are the types of heartbreaking moments that can lead to self-doubt if you let them linger.

But that’s not something the Jets have allowed to happen with regularity.

Instead, they’ve made a habit of being able to rally and to put deficits behind them – winning six times when trailing after one period.

That’s a testament to the Jets depth up front and offensive flair, but there is also a correlation to the belief the Jets have in their masked men.

“There’s a lot of confidence in our room,” said Jets centre Andrew Copp. “Like the other night, we’re down two but we feel like we can score on any given shift. I think we have a lot of confidence in our offensive game and are able to come back and a lot of confidence in our goaltender to keep us in it, not let that lead get to three or four. On any given night it can kind of be any line and we’ve kind of proved that over the course of the season so far.”

The only shot to sneak past Hellebuyck on Saturday night was a sharp-angle special, a bank job from behind the goal line by Nick Suzuki.

For many teams that don’t employ a Vezina-calibre netminder, it was the type of marker that can be deflating or even back-breaking.

The kind of goal that potentially opens the floodgates.

For Hellebuyck, it merely heightened his focus.

“It was one of those goals that you could do that 99 out of 100 times and it’s not going to go in,” said Hellebuyck. “I got caught on the one, which seems to be a theme this year, but I felt good in the game and just followed it up on the save to add momentum to me.”

This isn’t a one-off either.

Hellebuyck has built enough of a reservoir of resources to lean on in this department, not allowing a single moment to knock him off track.

“There’s a sense though, in our room, that when Connor gives up a goal like he did, you’re going to have a really, really hard time getting the next one,” said Maurice. “There’s a faith in our goaltender.”

That faith is well-founded and it’s an important part of the Jets success, as they won for a fourth consecutive and improved to 13-6-1 through 20 games of this 56-game schedule.

The Jets aren’t a finished product and they aren’t without flaws as they approach the midway point.

They also aren’t letting the pack run away from them either, they’re actually beginning to create a bit of separation.

At a time that was supposed to start providing a few clues about where the Jets actually stand in the North Division, they’ve found a way to take some important steps forward as they prepare for a two-game set with the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and Tuesday to round out this four-game homestand.

The Jets are tied for third in goals for per game (3.55), eighth in goals against (2.60 goals against per game) and boast a goal differential of plus-16, good for third in the NHL and behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning (plus-30) and Toronto Maple Leafs (plus-23).

Building blocks are being put down and this group is learning how to win – which isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds.

Especially on a night when the Jets were clearly not clicking on all cylinders against a desperate Canadiens team that made a coaching change earlier this week.

“You’re going to have games like that,” said Jets centre Paul Stastny, who delivered the OT winner on Saturday. “When things aren’t going your way, you’ve just got to find a way. Whether you get a point or two points, sometimes you grind those wins out or sometimes you grind those overtime points out, and (Saturday) was a perfect example of that.”

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Raptors-Bulls game postponed due to Health and Safety Protocols – TSN

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The Toronto Raptors’ issues with the coronavirus have worsened, prompting the NBA to call off their game scheduled for Sunday night against the Chicago Bulls.

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, without disclosing how many, and that combined with ongoing contact tracing issues meant they would not have the league-required eight players available to play.

Toronto played Friday without head coach Nick Nurse, several other assistants and staffers and starting forward Pascal Siakam because of virus-related issues. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo coached the team to a win over Houston and was in line to coach again Sunday.

All NBA players and coaches are tested daily. The Raptors used 12 players on Friday and had 14 listed as available to play that night. For Sunday’s game, Siakam was the only player who had been listed on Saturday’s injury report as out because of health and safety protocols — which indicates that results that came back on Saturday either showed more problems, or the contact tracing investigations showed that players had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have to quarantine.

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing.

Chicago had travelled to Tampa on Saturday for the game and after the postponement was announced changed its travel plans to fly back home Sunday afternoon. The Bulls are scheduled to play Monday at home against Denver.

Toronto’s next game, for now anyway, is scheduled to be Tuesday against Detroit.

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Raptors' COVID-19 issues worsen, forcing postponement of Sunday game against Bulls – CBC.ca

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The NBA called off the Toronto Raptors game against visiting Chicago on Sunday night in Tampa due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, and combined with contact tracing issues, wouldn’t have the league-required eight players available for the game.

Toronto was missing head coach Nick Nurse, five members of his staff and star forward Pascal Siakam for Friday’s 122-111 victory over Houston.

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing but the first time Toronto has had to reschedule. Three NBA teams haven’t had a game postponed.

Toronto used 12 players on Friday and had 14 listed as available to play. For Sunday’s game, Siakam was the only player who had been listed on Saturday’s injury report as out because of health and safety protocols, which indicates results returned Saturday either showed more problems, or the contact tracing investigations showed players had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have to quarantine.

The names of players or staff members affected were not revealed.

WATCH | Lowry leads Nurse, Siakam-less Raps past Rockets:

Toronto defeats Houston 122-111, Nick Nurse and 5 other members of the coaching staff along with Pascal Siakam were not at the game because of health and safety protocols. 1:23

Players and staff are tested twice daily.

The Raptors announced Nurse and most of his staff would miss Friday’s game a few hours before tip-off.

At the time, Toronto general manager Bobby Webster said it wasn’t clear Siakam’s situation was linked to the coaches.

“The NBA is being extremely careful here,” Webster said. “It’s early in what’s going on here, so I think we’re all being conscientious and not taking any risks…. We’ll see what tomorrow brings us.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob discusses Fred VanVleet’s all-star snub:

Vivek Jacob is joined by Raptors reporter William Lou, to discuss Fred VanVleet not being selected to the 2021 All-Star Game and the Raptors getting back to the .500 mark after a slow 2-8 start to the season. 4:40

The Raptors’ staff was already shorthanded, given Chris Finch left the team earlier this week to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie make up the remainder of Nurse’s coaching staff.

The Raptors are scheduled to host Detroit on Tuesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., before wrapping up its first-half schedule on Thursday in Boston. They are playing home games in Florida due to Canada’s border regulations around COVID-19, and health and safety measures in Toronto.

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