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Stu Cowan: Nine men out as Canadiens brace for NHL restart in Tampa – Montreal Gazette

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Habs are already out of the playoff race, but post-season berths could be decided by COVID-19 as much — if not more — than anything else.

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That’s what the rest of this season could look like as the NHL tries to keep playing games despite the exploding number of COVID-19 cases as a result of the Omicron variant.

On Monday afternoon, the Canadiens flew to Tampa, where they are scheduled to play the Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens made the trip without nine players who are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Goalie Jake Allen, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jeff Petry and Chris Wideman were added to the list before practice Monday morning in Brossard, joining Laurent Dauphin, Mike Hoffman, Artturi Lehkonen and Tyler Toffoli. Goalie coach Eric Raymond is also on the list.

The Lightning have six players on the protocol list: goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott, along with Anthony Cirelli, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrej Sustr. Head coach Jon Cooper and assistant Rob Zettler are also on the list.

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But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has decided the games will go on after putting the season on pause for six days with the schedule set to resume with three games Tuesday. The NHL has already postponed 70 games this season because of COVID-19, including Tuesday’s scheduled game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks.

The question is how much longer can this continue as teams run out of players who must spend 10 days in quarantine after testing positive? The Canadiens are already out of the playoff race, but other playoff positions could be decided by COVID-19 as much — if not more — than anything else.

The Lightning, for example, are missing both of their goalies and could have an AHL call-up in net for their next five games.

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Long before COVID, the flu spread through an NHL locker room like wildfire. The players are constantly together in close quarters, whether it be in the locker room, on the bench, in a plane or for team meals. We’re quickly learning just how contagious the Omicron variant is — even among the vaccinated — so we can expect the number of NHL cases to keep rising.

While shutting down the NHL until the New Year might seem like a good idea, will the situation be much different in another week?

“It’s just a different world,” said the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher, who spent 10 days in quarantine after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on Dec. 2. “Before, when you’d have the flu, you were playing. You’d come to the rink and you’d try to stay away (from other players). You’d get your separate water bottle and do what you can to stop it from spreading. But you were there to play the game. Now, to be honest, a lot of the guys feel asymptomatic or, if you’re like me, you have symptoms. But you still feel like maybe you could be out there, but you’re kind of forced to stay away for 10 days and that’s for that reason. We’re trying to keep each other safe and trying to stop the spread the best we can.

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“Our guys here have done a really good job,” Gallagher added. “Most of the time when we have had positive cases it hasn’t really spread. This time, obviously, it is. Try to limit it, try to do the best we can. Trust the protocols you have. At the same time, you’ve got to focus and understand that we have a job to do.”

  1. Montreal Canadiens' Cole Caufield, centre, celebrates with Nick Suzuki, Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber, right, after beating the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to advance to the Stanley Cup final in Montreal on June 24, 2021.

    Year in review: Roller-coaster ride for Canadiens in 2021

  2. Canadiens goalie Jake Allen during warmups in the empty Bell Centre prior to their game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Montreal on Dec. 16, 2021, after the public health department requested the Canadiens hold the game with no fans because of rising COVID-19 numbers in the province.

    Five more Canadiens players placed on NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list

  3. None

    Unwrapping Canadiens’ Christmas gifts | HI/O Bonus

The current spike in NHL COVID-19 cases might have something to do with players going back home to visit family during the Christmas break.

“To be honest, I’m not sure exactly where everyone was,” Gallagher said. “A lot of guys stayed here, spent time with their family. Personally, I went back to Vancouver, saw my family there. Some guys left, some guys were here. Guys that went back, we were pretty cautious around our families and made sure that you’re keeping them safe as well. We understood what our situation was as well.”

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It certainly looks like COVID-19 isn’t going away any time soon, so the NHL will try to keep the season going as best as it can.

The Canadiens have gone back to video conferences for all media interviews and after practice Monday I asked head coach Dominique Ducharme — who tested positive for COVID-19 during the playoffs last season — what the concern level is inside the locker room now when it comes to catching the virus.

“Everyone’s aware, so everyone’s more careful inside here, making sure that everything they ask us to do everyone’s doing it and doing it all the time,” he said. “We know it’s part of the situation right now, but not only for our team. If we look in the province and in the country and around the world, it’s pretty much the same thing. We’re cautious but, at the same time, we know it’s a difficult moment right now. Hopefully, it’s going to be going away and going back to normal as soon as possible.”

As this pandemic drags on, it’s becoming more difficult to remember what normal was.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Mega Jackpot: New Jersey Woman Wins $3.5 Million

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December 1st of 2021, this day was engraved in stone for Dori B. The New Jersey resident bagged $3.5 million in casino winnings from popular BetMGM casino Borgata. One of the largest payouts issued by online casinos for real money games is the amount. The amount is also many jackpot records for individuals playing MGM Grand Millions of slots in the United States. BetMGM officials issued the check for the $3.5 million on Sunday with huge smiles and commented on the win. The vice president of BetMGM, Mr. Matthew Sunderland, congratulated the lady on her success. He termed it record-breaking since it is one of the highest ever issued by an online casino. The Vice President was enthusiastic and indicated that the company was proud to offer players Life-Changing Prizes! He takes pride in their casino games, terming the MGM Grand Millions slot as an Exclusive Jackpot Network, offering the best wins for the players who want to find the best online casino bonuses. He states that BetMGM cannot wait to continue setting records throughout the U.S.

  • Dori B. Approach to the Jackpot
  • What plans do you have?
  • Popular Wins by BetMGM
  • More about BetMGM

Dori B. Approach to the Jackpot

The winning lady, whose name is Dori B., states that her decision to play the game wasn’t an impulsive one. She says that it stemmed from seeing where the grand prize stood at that moment. in her own words, during the press conference held by BetMGM officials, she said, I just knew it had to hit soon! In the press release, she shows her conviction on the jackpot outcome by saying, And boy did it! Her actual statement read, I thought, ‘Someone is going to hit it, maybe it could be me!

She describes the night she won the jackpot as a regular one for her. Once she took a look at the jackpot and decided it would hit soon, she decided to try her luck. She says that On the night I won, all it took was a $10 spin. She at first didn’t believe that she would be the lucky winner, but she only knew it would hit soon, and someone would scoop those millions. A second later, she was the lucky winner. She states that One second later, I became a millionaire. Now, thanks to the BetMGM and the Borgata online casino, Dori B. is a millionaire. She laughs it out and seriously says ‘and my life has changed forever’.

What Plans Do You Have?

BetMGM has a record of issuing quality game prizes worth millions. Last year, the company awarded another $3.2 million to another gambler in the country. However, what players do with the cash awarded remains their private business. Dori B., however, was proud to share what she thought she would do with her winnings. She states that her newfound fortune will be used through Family Vacations and constant volunteering! Dori B. says that her $3.5 million has made her dream of being a Mega Jackpot Winner come true. What remains is to use the money on family vacations and volunteer work.

Since the world has a comprehensive record of casino winnings, especially with slots games, it is difficult to tell the amount the next winner will collect. Online slot jackpots have delivered $23.6 million to a Finnish player in the past. The player won €17.8 million, equivalent to the $23.6 million. BetMGM is one of the online casinos the Borgata has in New Jersey. The Borgata casino had revenue of $38.8 million back in October. It is the highest amount the casino has ever made since it went live in November of 2013. It joins the record set by New Jersey’s 29 casinos online, which is $127 million in a single month.

Popular Wins by BetMGM

Dori B. isn’t the only famous win ever awarded by BetMGM. Over time, the casino has had opportunities to reward various players with excellent prizes. In 2017, anonymous players received $14 million in BetMGM sports betting after placing a successful wager during the L. A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros match. A famous poker player, Billy Walters, decided to try his luck and bagged $3.5 million with a successful wager during the Super Bowl XLIV. However, amongst all possible wins, the best is Steve Whitley, who managed to win €1.45 million, equivalent to $1,825,274 million back in 2011. Vegas Dave also brought with him $2.5 million. For some people, all these examples give grounds even to think seriously about becoming a professional gambler who even is ready to pay taxes for having gambling as the only income source.

More about BetMGM

New Jersey as a state alone has been a BetMGM stronghold. The company has several online casino brands in the state, generating $341.3 million in October alone. The amount is a testament to the casino brand’s quality of services. Also, it is double the amount made in the past ten months back in 2020, which rendered it in the third position. However, the new revenue generated in October brings the casino to the first position after overthrowing the famous Golden Nugget and Resorts Casino.

Such success is accorded to its branding or marketing and its status as one of the best gaming establishments ranking first in the United States. The casino brand competes with the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel. According to popular casino reviews, BetMGM is the largest online gaming operator. The company and its brand bring in an estimated 32% of the gross gaming revenue in four different states. These include Michigan, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

But, these aren’t the only states in the United States where players can access BetMGM. Players can also partake in the sports betting section of the website in various forms. These include Virginia, Indiana, Wyoming, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and Tennessee. The gaming platform delivers gambling services of various natures to players allowing them a myriad of opportunities to win.

If you are a gambler who lives in Canada, you can find more information about gambling in B.C. before you start to make your winnings.

Summary

BetMGM is a reputable online gaming platform and brand. MGM Resorts International and the MGM Resorts and Entain run this specific online platform as a joint venture. AS a result, players winning from the casino and other sports betting services don’t have to worry about fraudulent activities. With Dori B. carrying her check for $3.5 million and many other winning chances evidenced by people, players can remain assured of their potential winning opportunities while playing at BetMGM!

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Prescott on Cowboys fans throwing debris at refs: 'Credit to them' – theScore

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Dak Prescott seemingly applauded the Dallas Cowboys fans who threw debris at officials Sunday after their wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback initially thought spectators were showering Cowboys players with garbage before reporters informed him the trash was intended for the referees.

“Oh, well, credit to them, then,” Prescott said, according to WFAA’s Mike Leslie.

Prescott was offered a chance to clarify his remark at the end of his postgame press conference but chose not to, according to Leslie.

Dallas lost moments before the debris was thrown, as the driving Cowboys failed to spike the ball while the final seconds ticked off the clock. Dallas lined up to snap the ball, but an official bumped into Prescott from behind and couldn’t spot the ball in time.

“The fans felt the same way as us,” Prescott said, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken. “I guess that’s why the refs took off and got out of there so fast. I think everybody is upset with the way this thing played out.”

Referee Alex Kemp said afterward the officials operated properly and spotted the ball correctly.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was also frustrated by the way the final seconds played out.

“We shouldn’t have had any problem getting the ball spotted there,” he said, per CBS Sports.

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I Watched This Game: Pettersson breaks out in big Canucks win over Capitals – Vancouver Is Awesome

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The Vancouver Canucks’ road trip was not going to plan. The Canucks were looking to make a statement against some of the top teams in the NHL, but through three games that statement appeared to be, “These teams are better than we are.”

On Sunday, the Canucks were facing another of the NHL’s best teams, the 7th-in-the-NHL Washington Capitals. They were doing so on the second half of back-to-backs in an afternoon game with one of their best forwards — Conor Garland — out on the NHL’s COVID protocol and with Thatcher Demko playing his fourth game in six nights.

That’s not typically a recipe for success but the Canucks bucked the odds thanks partly to a complete effort from the entire team but, more specifically, thanks to a breakthrough performance from Elias Pettersson.

The team’s franchise forward hasn’t exactly been playing like a franchise forward this season, unless you consider “getting fans’ hopes up and then leaving them bitterly disappointed” as a pretty accurate representation of the Canucks franchise.

Pettersson’s struggles culminated with a game on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes where pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. He had some terrible giveaways, accidentally blocked what looked like a sure goal, took a skate to the face, hit the post on his best scoring chance, and snapped his stick in half on another chance, after which he got tripped by the goaltender and went crashing into the boards with no penalty call.

It seemed like there was nowhere to go but up for Pettersson and he went way, way up against the Capitals, scoring two enormous goals to lead the Canucks to the win.

“We don’t have a lot of natural scorers on our team,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau, “Hopefully, it’s not an anomaly or a one-off and he can continue to do this and then that’ll make it an awful lot easier on us.”

Of course, Boudreau had previously said that Pettersson’s game was rounding into form and that the scoring was on its way.

“When you start getting chances — he hit the post last game and he had a couple of breakaways the game before — it was inevitable that he was going to score at some point,” said Boudreau.

Pettersson, for his part, wasn’t worried. 

“I know what I’m capable of,” said Pettersson. “Of course, it’s been tough for me. I’m trying to play my best hockey every game, and it’s been been a slow start.”

With limited media access due to COVID this season, Pettersson hasn’t been grilled by the media about his struggles all that much, so it wasn’t surprising that he was asked about his confidence. At one point, when he was again asked about mental aspect of his struggles, he muttered, “Oh, so it’s just gonna be questions like that.”

That’s a bit of the death-stare Pettersson from earlier in his career popping up and it’s honestly nice to see some of that confident bite back. But also, yeah, it’s going to be questions like that when you go from being a near point-per-game player with strong two-way play and a dominant playoff run under your belt to putting up 19 points in 38 games. 

Pettersson is too good of a player to be kept quiet forever but even the biggest believers in Pettersson had to have their confidence rattled a little bit by his struggles this season. 
 
Hopefully, this is just the start of a Pettersson renaissance. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any hope of the Canucks beating the odds and making the playoffs unless Pettersson regains his form and becomes the Canucks’ best forward like he has been in the past.

With Pettersson excelling, it was a lot more pleasant when I watched this game.

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  • It should be noted that while the Canucks were playing on the second half of back-to-backs, so were the Capitals. Also, the Canucks were missing Garland due to COVID protocol but the Capitals were missing John Carlson, who is tied for 6th in the NHL among defencemen in scoring, for the same reason. Maybe that all balances out.
     
  • A big reason for the three-straight losses on this road trip was the power play going 0-for-12 in those three games, so it was great to see them go 2-for-4 tonight. Of course, that was countered by the penalty kill giving up two goals on two Capitals power plays, so you can’t really say that special teams were the difference.
     
  • Before going 2-for-2 against the Canucks, the Capitals had gone 3-for-33 on the power play in their last 10 games and were 28th in the NHL overall in power play percentage. Despite their firepower up front, the Capitals have had one of the worst power plays in the NHL this season but you wouldn’t know it from Sunday’s game. 
     
  • “We’re all concerned about the penalty kill,” said Boudreau. “It’s great that you score power play goals and it was largely overdue…but we’ve got to shore up the penalty kill because I’m a big believer that if you can have your special teams in the top 10 in both categories, you’re usually a playoff team and you’re usually a tough team to beat.”
     
  • Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring with a classic Ovechkin goal: a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle. There’s not much shame in giving up a goal like that to Ovechkin — he’s the greatest goalscorer in NHL history for a reason — but it was his third shot attempt from the exact same spot on that power play. Allowing three one-timers from the Ovi spot is like standing around in the open while Steven Seagal ever-so-slowly snipes all of the people around you — eventually, he’s going to get you. 
     
  • “I wouldn’t look at [Ovechkin] and he was looking right at me and I said, ‘No more,’” said Boudreau. “If he played against me every day, he’d probably have 110 goals a year. He gets up for it. Seriously, if it wasn’t for Demmer — Ovi had, on one shift, he had two great looks on two-on-ones, he had a couple great looks in the third period.”
     
  • This was an outstanding game by the line of Tanner Pearson, J.T. Miller, and Brock Boeser, particularly in terms of puck possession. When they were on the ice together at 5-on-5, shot attempts were 22-to-8 for the Canucks, as they spent long shifts in the offensive zone. Pearson’s work on the forecheck was phenomenal, repeatedly winning the puck down low below the goal line.
     
  • The only issue is that line couldn’t put the puck in the net. Pearson had the line’s best chance in the final minute of the first period, as J.T. Miller gave him a wide-open net but his stick was checked at the last second by Capitals defenceman Matt Irwin and his shot was sliding wide before it was cleared away by Aliaksei Protas.
     
  • Pettersson responded for the Canucks with his own power play goal in the second period. After a stint as the net-front presence on the power play — an interesting experiment that largely failed because the Canucks never play the puck down low on the power play — Pettersson was moved back to the top of the right faceoff circle where he ought to be at the end of Saturday’s game and started there on Sunday. As 38 Special would say to him, “I want you back where you belong.”
     
  • Pettersson’s goal wasn’t a mirror image of Ovechkin’s — instead of a one-timer blast, Pettersson instead made a patient play to step around the defenceman charging out to take away the shooting lane and whipped the puck off the short-side post and in. Like everything in the frame of a Wes Anderson movie, it was perfectly placed.  
     
  • A few minutes later, Pettersson made it 2-1 but the goal came after a strong shift by the Miller line that didn’t allow the Capitals to change. That allowed Pettersson and his linemates, Nils Höglander and Bo Horvat to buzz around the offensive zone until a point shot from Oliver Ekman-Larsson created a rebound. Pettersson’s first shot on the rebound was stopped but then he called bank and put the puck off the backside of goaltender Ilya Samsonov and in.
     
  • Garnet Hathaway had a very stupid game for the Capitals. He took a ridiculously unnecessary penalty for knocking Ekman-Larsson’s helmet off, leading to the Canucks’ game-winning goal but his far worse offence was this elbow to the head of Tyler Motte completely away from the play. Hathaway got a two-minute minor that probably should’ve been a five-minute major and he ought to get a suspension out of it too.
  • Horvat gave the Canucks the 3-1 lead with a fantastic shot from the bumper on the power play. He was helped by the threat of Pettersson’s shot: he just missed the net on a one-timer a moment earlier, so the penalty kill was cheating towards him. That left Horvat a little bit more room for a one-timer of his own that went short side on Samsonov.
     
  • Miller’s pass on Horvat’s goal deserves another look because Miller didn’t give Horvat another look. He was looking towards Boeser down low the entire time, completely fooling penalty killer Nick Jensen, who swung his stick to block a pass to Boeser that never came, opening up the passing lane to Horvat on the inside.
  • The Capitals mirrored Horvat’s goal with their own power play marker from the bumper. This time, the pass did go down low: Nicklas Backstrom passed to Evgeny Kuznetsov below the goal line, who relayed to Tom Wilson for the finish, with Tyler Myers and Jason Dickinson a step slow to prevent the shot. 
     
  • While the Canucks gave up two power play goals, they were much stingier defensively at 5-on-5 and they capably closed out the rest of the third period, protecting the one-goal lead until the final minute, when Boeser beat out an icing and centred for a Miller empty-net goal to seal the win, with Pearson getting the second assist. It was a fitting finish for a dominant effort by that line.  

 

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