Connect with us


Some of the storylines the NHL missing two Olympics has cost hockey – Yahoo Canada Sports



Connor McDavid playing alongside Sidney Crosby. Auston Matthews leading a young group of talented Americans. 

Alex Ovechkin and Russia’s mercurial roster trying to finally get over the hump. Canada’s quest for three straight gold medals — and perhaps a fourth.

The NHL skipped the 2018 Olympics in South Korea for business reasons, tired of the mid-season hole in its schedule. The league was then forced to back out of Beijing 2022 this week because of massive COVID-19 disruptions that led to a string of postponements.

Hockey’s best have committed to going to the 2026 Games, but by the time that event opens in Italy, it will have been 12 years since NHLers skated on Olympic ice.

McDavid will have just turned 29 years old, while Matthews will be 28. Crosby and Ovechkin — 38 and 40, respectively, by the time 2026 rolls around — might be retired.

The last best-on-best tournament for this generation of stars was the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. But McDavid and Matthews were on the gimmicky under-23 North American squad, while players from a handful of European countries were grouped together to round out and balance the eight-team field.

Before the NHL first went to the Olympics in 1998 to begin a streak of five straight appearances, hockey fans at least had Canada Cups and World Cups to whet their appetite for elite international competition.

With no NHLers going to Beijing and no concrete plans for a World Cup resurrection, The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the lost storylines from two Olympic Games missed:


The superstars have only played together once for Canada, and that was at the 2015 world championships in the Czech Republic.

Crosby, of course, scored the golden goal in overtime against the U.S at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and then captained his country to another podium-topping finish four years later in Sochi, Russia, to complement a long list of NHL honours with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

McDavid, meanwhile, already has two Hart Trophy wins as a league MVP and has captured the Art Ross Trophy on three occasions as its top scorer with the Edmonton Oilers.

The duo was primed to lead Canada in both South Korea and China.

Would they have played on the same line? What would the Canadian power play have looked like when sprinkling in Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar? 


Auston Matthews topped the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games last season, and was primed to headline a dynamic U.S. roster in Beijing.

The Toronto Maple Leafs sniper might have played on a line with veteran Patrick Kane at both the 2018 and 2022 Games, and would have hit the ice this time around with a group featuring fellow youngsters like Kyle Connor, Matthew and Brady Tkachuk, Alex DeBrincat, Adam Fox and Charlie McAvoy. Jack Eichel might have also been in the mix as he recovers from neck surgery.

The Americans haven’t won Olympic gold since the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. They claimed silver in 2002 and 2010 with NHLers after losing to Canada in both finals.

This iteration of the U.S. program might have had what it takes to unseat the Canadians.


The Russian team won non-NHL Olympic gold in 2018 with a roster of players from its domestic Kontinental Hockey League that included Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.

But the country’s stars plying their trade in North America haven’t medalled since winning silver in 1998 and bronze in 2002.

Russia had high hopes as tournament hosts in 2014, but lost to Finland in the quarterfinals.

Barring injury, they would have had the best goalie of the tournament in China with Andrei Vasilevskiy, and a forward group led by Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeni Malkin, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Kaprizov and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Defence might have been a little thin to get over the hump, but in a single-elimination tournament and with a hot netminder, anything’s possible.


Canada and the U.S. are together in Group A in Beijing along with Germany and China.

There would have been a clear advantage for the North Americans, but a German outfit led by Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutzle and Moritz Seider wouldn’t be an easy out.

Germany surprised Canada’s non-NHLers in the 2018 Olympic semis before falling to the Russians for gold, and is a program that continues to be on the rise.

“We just want to work hard and play for ourselves,” Stutzle said before the start of the NHL season about being in a group with Canada and the U.S. “We want to set a good note for German hockey.”

That will have to wait until at least 2026.


While players like Crosby and Ovechkin have enjoyed Olympic opportunities, and McDavid and Matthews still have runway remaining, a number of stars might never get the chance.

Steven Stamkos was passed over by Canada in 2010 despite being on the way to a 51-goal season before breaking his leg ahead of Sochi.

Victor Hedman, his teammate with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2018 Norris Trophy winner, didn’t get the call in 2014.

Brad Marchand has developed into an NHL stud, but only played at 2016 World Cup for Canada.

And then there’s John Tavares, who injured his knee in 2014 at his only Olympics.

Stamkos, Hedman and Tavares are all 31, while Marchand is 33. Each might not get another crack.


Would Drew Doughty have made Canada’s blue line? What about Andrew Mangiapane as a darkhorse up front?

How would Canadian head coach Jon Cooper have organized his forward group and dealt with his country’s uncertain goaltending situation? Would he have let the roster’s skill run wild, unlike Mike Babcock in 2014.

Would Tavares and Stamkos have received the call? Could Canada have won a third straight gold in 2018, and perhaps a fourth in Beijing?

Just some of the Olympic questions without answers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2021.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


49ers stun Packers with second-half comeback, advance to NFC Championship –



GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Robbie Gould continued his playoff perfection and moved the San Francisco 49ers one step away from their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons with a 45-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-10 upset of Green Bay on Saturday night.

On a field littered with snow flurries, Gould’s kick knocked off the top-seeded Packers and possibly ended Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay.

The 49ers (12-7) continued their postseason hex on Rodgers and advanced to an NFC championship game matchup Jan. 30 at either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) or Los Angeles Rams (13-5). Those teams play Sunday in Tampa.

Rodgers dropped to 0-4 in career playoff matchups against the 49ers. San Francisco beat the Packers 37-20 in the NFC championship game two seasons ago before losing 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

The Packers (13-5) earned the NFC’s top seed for a second straight season but again failed to reach the big game as the 49ers rallied by scoring 10 unanswered points in the final five minutes.

San Francisco tied the game with 4:41 left thanks to a breakdown by Green Bay’s special teams, the Packers’ biggest weakness all season.

Jordan Willis’ outstretched left hand blocked a punt by Corey Bojorquez, who was kicking from the front of his end zone. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the ball at the 6-yard line and ran it in to make it 10-10.

After the Packers went three-and-out, the 49ers got the ball back at their 29 with 3:20 left and drove into field-goal range. Deebo Samuel delivered a 9-yard run on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 38, and the 49ers ran down the clock to set up Gould.

A.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession that put the Packers ahead 7-0. Green Bay’s offense didn’t do much of anything after that.

The temperature at kickoff was 14 degrees with a wind chill of zero, making it the fifth-coldest playoff game in Lambeau Field history. The second half was played amid snow flurries.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Edmonton Oilers stop bleeding with monster comeback victory against Calgary Flames – Edmonton Sun



On a seven-game losing streak, with their coach on the hot seat, their goalies being roasted at the stake and the season slipping through their fingers, a centre stage Battle of Alberta was the fork in what has been a long and bumpy downhill road

Article content

There are certain games in a hockey team’s season that mean much more than two points. They are watershed moments that tell us who they are and where they are going.


Article content

Saturday night against the Calgary Flames was one of those games for the Edmonton Oilers.

On a seven-game losing streak, with their coach on the hot seat, their goalies being roasted at the stake and the season slipping through their fingers, a centre stage Battle of Alberta was the fork in what has been a long and bumpy downhill road.

In the end, the Oilers took the road less travelled — one that actually led to a win.

They came back from down 2-0 and rode two goals from Evan Bouchard, an outstanding night from Mikko Koskinen and a third-period winner and empty-netter from Leon Draisaitl to post a life-preserving 5-3 victory.

“It feels great,” said Draisaitl, who also chipped in two assists for a four-point night. “Losing is awful. It sucks. It is not fun. It feels like there is always a cloud around you. We are not where we want to be yet, but this is a start and you have to start at some point. (Koskinen) was amazing. It was a full team effort, a good game for us.”


Article content

For reasons unexplained, the Sportsnet crew only saw fit to name Koskinen the third star, but his 44-save performance was the foundation that made everything else possible.

“He saved the game for us,” said Draisaitl. “He was our best player, not even close tonight. It is great for him. We love him in the dressing room and we love playing for him. He was amazing.”

The Oilers, who came in with six points to show for their previous 15 games (2-11-2), needed this game more than they’ve needed a regular season game in a looong time.

That they might have righted their season at the expense of Calgary makes it sweeter.

“It makes it extra special,” said Draisaitl. “It’s always fun beating our biggest rival in the league. But to be honest, it doesn’t really matter at this point when you are that deep into a slump.


Article content

“You are just looking to get that first win out of the way, it doesn’t really matter who it is against. But it does make it a little bit extra special, for sure.”

Not that the Flames were exactly tearing things up. Prior to their 5-1 win over Florida this week they lost nine of their previous 10 games (the only win coming over lowly Seattle) and were outscored 43-22. So they were at a bit of a crossroads themselves.

But when the flag dropped, Calgary hit the gas first.

It was a miserable start for the Oilers, who were losing puck battles and leaving guys wide open around their net en route to a well-deserved 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes. That made it 13 goals against in the last five periods dating back to the five-goal third-period collapse against Ottawa.


Article content

Things looked pretty bad at this point.

It turned in the second, though, starting with a pair of point shots on the power play from Bouchard.

“I thought our second period was good,” said Connor McDavid, who ended his three-game drought with a pair of assists. “We really dictated the pace of the period, drew a few penalties and our power play was able to capitalize.

“The power play is big part of the game and we were able to get ourselves back in it, to just scratch and claw to find a way to get a win.”

Brendan Perlini and Noah Hannafin traded goals before the second intermission and it was 3-3 after 40.

All the Oilers had to do was win the final period. That was no gimme after giving up nine goals in the third period of their last two games, but the game was still up for grabs.


Article content

The Flames pushed first, outshooting Edmonton 8-2 through the first 11 minutes, but Koskinen kept it 3-3 with a handful of key stops, none better than a diving save for the ages on Dillon Dube.

“I think it is my top save in the NHL,” he said. “When you think about the situation and where we are, we really needed the win and we got it so we have to be happy for that.”

That set the stage for Draisaitl’s winner on a brilliant rush at 14:29.

“We were down 2-0 after the first, but we kept talking that we believed and that we were gong to come back and that is what happened,” said Koskinen. “It was a full team effort. I was really proud of the team.”


In what seems like a never-ending drip of injuries and illnesses, the Oilers were without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (leg), Zach Hyman (protocol) and defenceman Tyson Barrie (upper and lower body injuries, but the middle is said to be OK). Zack Kassian also sat this one out with a non-COVID illness.

Stuart Skinner emerged from COVID protocol in time for the game but they kept him on the bench as a backup given that he hadn’t been on the ice in six days.



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Shapovalov beats Zverev in straight sets, advances to Australian Open quarterfinals – TSN



MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov continued his run at the Australian Open with a dominant straight-sets upset victory over Alexander Zverev in the fourth round Sunday.

Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., defeated the third-ranked Zverev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinal.

The 22-year-old Canadian, ranked 14th, will face No. 6 Rafael Nadal in the next round. The Spaniard earned his spot in the quarterfinal with a straight-sets victory against Adrian Mannarino.

Shapovalov had never made it past the third round at the Australian Open.

The Canadian was aggressive in the match and constantly challenged the uninspired Zverev. He managed to overcome 11 double faults in the match.

Shapovalov completely dominated the third set, which ended with Zverev sending a return into the net. He fist-bumped in celebration.

Shapovalov needed two hours 21 minutes to defeat Zverev – his quickest match of the Grand Slam tournament so far. His previous three matches lasted more than three hours each, with his second-round victory over South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo going four hours 25 minutes across five sets.

But it was a much more consistent, composed performance that saw Shapovalov make relatively fast work of Zverev.

He put serious doubt in the German’s mind when he broke his opponent on the very first game of the second set. Zverev destroyed his racket in anger, smashing it multiple times against the court.

The Canadian went on to lose serve twice to go down 5-3 in the second set before breaking Zverev right back to eventually force a tiebreak. In that tiebreak, Shapovalov nearly let a 5-1 lead slip away but he held on for the 2-0 set lead.

The upset was brewing early on when Shapovalov broke the German’s serve on the fourth game to go up 3-1. He served out from there for the comfortable 6-3 opening-set win.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2022.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading