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Stu Cowan: Are these guys really the Montreal Canadiens? – Montreal Gazette

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“The young guys have really stepped up their game,” Byron added. “They’re playing incredible hockey for us. Everyone else right now is just trying to play as hard as we can. This thing could be over any day. It’s a lot of motivation for us knowing that every game you just give it your all and we’ll see what happens. You don’t have to worry about the long grind of the season and where the standings are. It’s just one game at a time. Put your focus on that game, and the guys are doing really well with that right now.”

Marc Bergevin has preached during his eight years as Canadiens GM that getting into the playoffs is the key and then “anything can happen” — especially with a goalie like Carey Price. Anything is happening now and Price looks like the $84-Million Man with a 4-2 record, a 1.46 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and two shutouts.

“He’s our best player every single night,” defenceman Ben Chiarot said about Price after the goalie made 30 saves in Game 2. “During the season, playoffs, I mean he’s a rock for us every game. He’s just continuing now. It’s not anything new for us when we see him every day. He’s like that every day, every game, every practice he’s like that. So we’re kind of spoiled that we get to see it every single day.”

The Canadiens will go as far as Price can carry them — again — but he’s not carrying this team all alone right now. Nine players have scored goals for the Canadiens, including a team-leading four by 20-year-old centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi. None of the goal-scorers are named Brendan Gallagher, who you have to think is due to break out of his slump like linemate Tomas Tatar did with his first two goals in Game 2 against the Flyers. Heck, the Canadiens even scored two power-play goals in Game 2 — one by Tatar — after going 0-for-12 in their qualifying-round victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I think we came into Toronto here no expectations, no pressure,” coach Kirk Muller said Saturday. “We got some young guys that are led by these leaders. They came in and made a decision that they want to play hockey and they’ve been committed. They’ve worked hard, they’ve followed the system and everything. Momentum’s a funny thing. Once you get it you can ride with it, and we just happened to get off to the right tracks and trying to get better every day. We’re up against a really tough opponent right now and we respect them a lot. Yesterday was great, but we got to be ready to roll again tomorrow.”

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Five intriguing Henrik Lundqvist destinations if he doesn’t retire – Sportsnet.ca

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The Henrik Lundqvist era in The Big Apple officially ended Wednesday when the New York Rangers bought out the final year of the star goalie’s contract.

The 38-year-old Swedish star has been associated with the Rangers organization for the past 20 years after being selected by the team in the seventh round of the 2000 draft.

Lundqvist finished top-six in Vezina Trophy voting in each of his first 10 NHL seasons, however his goals-against average has increased in each of the past six seasons so his $8.5-million annual salary cap hit became a burden for a Rangers team about to begin a new chapter in its history.

The Rangers — the team that won the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery and now hold the No. 1 overall pick — will roll with their two young Russian puck-stoppers, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, starting in 2020-21. As for Lundqvist, it’s unclear what his future holds, at least in terms of his playing days.

Will Lundqvist consider retirement? If not, will he want to earn a starter’s role in a new city? Could he thrive as part of a tandem? Might he be an ideal backup on a team with a young starter he could mentor?

Or, could the veteran struggle to find the right fit altogether? This off-season, after all, boasts a fairly crowded goalie market and with the salary cap not increasing it puts some teams in a budget bind.

With all that in mind, here are five teams that could be interesting fits for the decorated netminder.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche were looking like a legitimate threat to emerge from the Western Conference before Philipp Grubauer went down with an injury. Backups Pavel Francouz and Michael Hutchinson struggled and Colorado was eliminated by Dallas. Adding some insurance in the form of a possible future Hall of Famer could contribute to Colorado reaching that next level.

GM Joe Sakic has plenty of cap space with which to work and Lundvist will prefer going to a team with realistic championship aspirations. Grubauer and Francouz are both under contract next season, with a combined cap hit of $5.33 million, which could complicate things slightly.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have something potentially special cooking in B.C. They were the only Canadian team to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs this summer. A huge reason for that was the play of Jacob Markstrom, who is expected to be the most sought-after goalie available in free agency – it’s either him or countryman Robin Lehner.

If Markstrom does leave, Vancouver will need to fill that void and who better to mentor Thatcher Demko than someone like Lundqvist? If he isn’t interested in playing second fiddle to a 24-year-old, though, then Vancouver might not be the right fit. Lundqvist could join former Team Sweden teammates Alex Edler and Loui Eriksson, plus star forward Elias Pettersson and Calder Trophy runner-up Quinn Hughes, on a growing team that would benefit from his experience and leadership.

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Washington Capitals

With Braden Holtby hitting the open market, Lundqvist would make sense as a replacement. The Capitals will be handing the keys to the crease to 22-year-old Ilya Samsonov. Lundqvist could provide the Russian some valuable support. Lundqvist might’ve struggled in 2019-20 but his .905 save percentage was better than Holtby’s .897.

Dallas Stars

Did Anton Khudobin price himself out of town after his playoff heroics that fell a couple wins shy of a Stanley Cup championship?

Khudobin is a pending UFA and if he leaves town the Stars will be left with Ben Bishop. The Stars should be contenders again next season. If they don’t think 2017 first-rounder Jake Oettinger is ready to be a full-time NHL backup next season and/or they don’t fully trust Bishop to stay healthy and perform at a high level consistently, then why not take a look at Lunqvist?

Henrik’s twin brother, Joel Lundvist, spent three seasons with the Stars from 2006-2009.

Chicago Blackhawks

This would be a wild jump from one Original Six franchise to another.

Chicago needs an upgrade in net with Corey Crawford a pending UFA and both Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia unproven as starters. Lundqvist wouldn’t be their first choice, but if they miss out on their top handful of targets then Lunqvist could be an excellent contingency plan.

Chicago has plenty of proven winners on their roster and they upset the Oilers in the qualifying round. As mentioned above, Lundqvist will want to go to a place where he can actually start some games. If he thinks the Blackhawks will be a playoff-calibre team next season, then who knows?

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GameThread Wild Card Game #2: Jays at Rays – Bluebird Banter

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We are only at the second game of the series, but the Jays are already facing elimination. Fortunately (?) they have their ace going today, so hopefully they’ll be able to pull out a win.

Here are today’s lineups. Both Shaw and Panik will get starts, Vladdy will DH and Gurriel has been moved up in the lineup.

Poll

Tonight, I will be watching this game:

  • 64%

    At home alone

    (45 votes)

  • 25%

    At home with family or friends

    (18 votes)

  • 10%

    Out alone

    (7 votes)

  • 0%

    Out with family or friends

    (0 votes)



70 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

How many innings will Ryu pitch tonight?

  • 28%

    0-3

    (25 votes)

  • 15%

    4-5

    (14 votes)

  • 40%

    6

    (36 votes)

  • 14%

    More than 6

    (13 votes)



88 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

How many runs will the Jays score tonight?

  • 10%

    0-1

    (9 votes)

  • 37%

    2-3

    (31 votes)

  • 30%

    4-5

    (25 votes)

  • 21%

    6+

    (18 votes)



83 votes total

Vote Now

GO JAYS GO

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Anthony Davis Plans To Make Nine More Finals With LeBron James – RealGM.com

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When LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010, he predicted they could win upwards of seven titles. James ended up winning two titles in four trips to The Finals before returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.

Anthony Davis, appearing in his first Finals, believes he and James could reach The Finals in every year of this decade.

“You see the work and preparation LeBron puts in every day, and you understand why this is his 10th NBA Finals appearance. He never stops. I plan to follow this motherf—er to hopefully nine more Finals,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “We’re all ready to go.”

Davis is 27 years old while James turns 36 in December. 

“I knew what I wanted,” he told Yahoo Sports. “I wanted what he had,” pointing to James.

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