The Toronto Argonauts improved to 5-3 with their 35-16 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Wednesday, but head coach Ryan Dinwiddie was far from satisfied with his team’s offensive performance.
The Argonauts’ offence finished with just 253 yards in the win, with their lone touchdown of the first half coming off a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Dejon Brissett.
“We couldn’t get lined up, we couldn’t block the right guys,” Dinwiddie said post-game. “It was one of the worst offensive performances I’ve seen, and those guys know it.
“I didn’t rip them at halftime . . . there’s no reason to get after them on game day. But we’ve got to be a whole lot better than that and there’s some guys who need to get better or they’re not going to be here.”
Bethel-Thompson: Special teams, defence were lights out; offence has to catch up
McLeod Bethel-Thompson explains what he talked about with Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans after the Argos’ win, and if he thinks the third quarter was the best Toronto has played this season.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who has taken over at quarterback with Nick Arbuckle injured, completed 15 of his 21 passes Wednesday for 181 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
In addition to the special-teams touchdown, the Argonauts extended their lead in the third quarter with Dexter McCoil Sr. and Chris Edwards both returning interceptions for touchdowns.
“Our special teams were phenomenal,” Dinwiddie said. “Those guys swarmed to the ball, flew around and made some real good plays and then the blocked punt was huge for Dejon to get that.
“Defensively, they’re practising and trying to score all the time. That was big-time for those guys to kind of put it out of reach when we (offence) weren’t doing our part.”
The Argonauts (5-3) will look to hold on to sole possession of first place in the East Division when they face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-4) on Monday.
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse always seems to be under the microscope, and that trend has continued into the 2021-22 season in the wake of the big defender signing an 8-year, $74-million extension over the summer. A ferocious competitor gifted with size, speed, and skill, Nurse has always had his share of critics. Nowadays he is frequently referenced as “our $9 million d-man”, often with a tinge of disdain in the voice of the speaker or the context of the writer. Never mind the fact that for one more season before that extension kicks in, Nurse has a cap hit of $5.6 million and appears highly likely to deliver excellent value yet again.
As he has for the last four seasons at least, in which he has:
played every game
led the team in total ice time and average even-strength ice time in each season
led the blueline in even-strength goals, assists, and points every season. Indeed, Nurse’s lowest output of the four — 26 even strength points in 2017-18 — was higher than any other Oiler D over the entire span, that being Tyson Barrie’s 25 EVP last season. No other rearguard even hit 20.
ranked in the top 8 of NHL blueliners in even-strength minutes, goals and points over the four years combined.
carried a cap hit of $0.863 million, $3.2 million, $3.2 million, and $5.6 million. A strong case can be made that he comfortably covered the bet in all four of those seasons.
But that was then; this is now. What has he done for the Oilers lately?
By the boxcars it’s been a quiet enough start, with 5 GP, 0-3-3, +4 to this point. Dig a little deeper, and we find a workhorse who leads the entire NHL in Time On Ice per game and (by a wider margin) in Hits . This on an Oilers team that is down several of their most physical players from last season including Adam Larsson , Jujhar Khaira and Josh Archibald . In their absence Nurse has come out banging, landing 8 hits in three different games and 4 each in the other two. Through all of that ice time and all of those battles, he has taken just one minor penalty through five games.
To these eyes the 26-year-old continues to improve at some of the more subtle aspects of the game. Cases in point, the following three sequences in which Nurse played a critical role in an important Oilers goal. All three from the recent road trip in which he officially got zero (0) points. Just don’t say he didn’t contribute to the offence, and specifically to Edmonton’s increasingly deadly transition game. All this while himself making a challenging transition to a new partner !
As we did in last week’s popular post micro-analyzing a superb goal by Jesse Puljujarvi , let’s “roll back the tape” and engage the screen grab function. In each case we will focus on the change of possession that preceded the goal — which is to say much earlier in the sequence than the typical highlight reel will show. But what happens at that moment, and in the ~second that follows, often sets the stage for the good stuff that happens later. To wit:
Goal #1: Shorthanded game winner at Arizona
Darnell Nurse (circled) is at the point of attack, where the Coyotes shooter has whiffed on his shot and gone down to the ice. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collects the loose puck in the low slot while Zach Hyman looks on from the top of the circle.
As RNH turns with the puck, Hyman puts it into gear and heads up-ice. Behind him Nurse negotiates the traffic.
Nuge retreats toward the corner with three Arizona players fixated on the puck. A fourth has just regained his footing on the weak side. Seeing the chance, Nurse joins the lane fifteen feet behind behind Hyman.
Now out of frame, Nugent-Hopkins has beaten all four Coyotes with a gorgeous soft dump off the wall and into the path of the streaking Hyman. Nurse surges up the middle to make it a 2-on-1.
Seeing the danger, the remaining Arizona defender steps towards the middle of the ice to defend the pass opening a lane for Hyman to take the puck directly to the net.
…and cashes with a fine shot from inside the faceoff dot. Nurse never touches the puck from first to last, but his recognition of the opportunity and his plus skating have aided Hyman greatly. Officially, though, the scoring play is Hyman from Nugent-Hopkins, and a well-deserved point for each. Nurse? +1 and thanks for coming.
Goal #2: Game-tying goal at Vegas
One of the responsibilities that comes with playing a lot with Connor McDavid and company is scenes like this. The Golden Knights’ top (healthy) line counterattacks 3-on-2 with the Oilers forwards all chasing the play. Nurse and his new partner Evan Bouchard gap up and play their angles as the Vegans hit the blueline.
Suddenly the gap closes as Nurse stops up, extends and attacks the puck, chipping it off the stick of William Karlsson.
The puck springs to the left, where Bouchard alertly gets a touch on it as well to tip it beyond the line of attackers…
…where McDavid pounces on it and makes the turn with numbers on his side. Oil fans will recognize this frame as the money shot…
…even as it takes another few seconds for the sequence to play out. Once again it’s Hyman with the finishing nail after a short but intense pressure where Oilers buzzed the net and Knights played chase. By now Nurse is an interested bystander out at the point, his damage already done a dozen seconds earlier and 140 feet away.
Goal #3: Go-ahead goal at Vegas
Just over a minute after the start of the prior sequence, the Nurse-Bouchard duo is still on the ice, having played an effective shift with the Derek Ryan line in between times, in which Nurse generated a decent shot. Now the Leon Draisaitl line has taken to the ice, has exerted some pressure but the puck has gone the other way. Both Nuge and Drai are in decent position and moving their feet, so there’s no odd-man aspect to this rush.
Bouchard is beaten by a pass into the middle of the ice, but Nurse gaps up and reads the play…
… assumes the “ready” position…
…and again extends to get stick-on-puck.
As Nurse retreats right out of the frame, the puck bounces off a couple of bodies in the neutral zone before being collected by Draisaitl…
…who spins the other way in full possession, a breaking Kailer Yamamoto providing a target for the lead pass.
Fast forward again to the finishing nail, delivered by a kneeling Draisaitl some 20 seconds after the initial change of possession, but with the Oilers again in the ascendant the entire time. By this time Nurse has made the change after a superb 77-second shift and is sitting on the bench while his replacement, Kris Russell, contributes to the eventual scoring play. Not so much as a plus for Darnell on this one, even as his well-timed “defensive stick” has freed the puck to skilled mates for a second straight goal.
Three important goals over two games, with Nurse making key contributions to each. Just two touches, both at full stretch on his own side of centre, and a third great decision made from deep in his own territory to join the attack even as he ultimately played the role of decoy. Three subtle plays, three happy endings, with more than a little help from his friends. It is, after all, a team game.
It’s my observation that Nurse does a lot of this sort of thing over the course of a game, and has learned/is learning to pick his spots better by the year. With his superb athleticism, he wins puck battles in a variety of ways: by simply winning a race to it, by overpowering an opponent, or through judicious use of his long reach. And while not featured in these sequences, he’s increasingly dangerous with the puck on his own blade.
Yes he still makes the wrong decision at times. There was that one play in the Calgary game where he got pulled behind the goal line and was beaten by a centring pass that was quickly deposited. Heard plenty about that one, but it remains the only powerplay goal scored on his watch in 17 shorthanded minutes. Meanwhile, in just 6 minutes he’s been on the PP, that unit has scored 4 times.
In all situations — which in his case means literally ALL situations with a heaping helping of crunch time — Darnell has been on the ice for 12 goals scored by the Oilers, just 5 against.
Best of all, I’ve yet to see a sign that he’s reached his ceiling just yet. Now an impact player in his seventh NHL season, Nurse continues to upgrade the fine details of his considerable game.
Recently at the Cult of Hockey
STAPLES: Is Nurse-Bouchard the top pairing of Oil fans’ dreams?
After years of confusing legislation, Canada finally achieved some clarity with regard to its sports betting laws earlier this year. The passing of Bill C-218 saw single event betting become legalized for the first time, paving the way for sportsbooks and online operators to begin serving Canadian customers all across the country.
Since then, the industry has gone from strength to strength. Unsurprisingly, Ontario has led the way in terms of online competition, with a wide array of options for punters to choose from. Home to some 15 million people, Ontario is the fifth biggest jurisdiction in the USA and Canada and is expected to rival the likes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the coming years.
So with sports betting finally up and running in a more comprehensive format in Canada, what does the future hold? Here’s a quick look ahead to some of the biggest developments that are expected to occur in the next 12 months.
The ability to place bets on-the-go is something that customers have come to expect from their sportsbooks nowadays. Although the idea of sports betting on single events is still a relative novelty for many Canadians, it won’t be long before they begin to demand a truly mobile experience from their gambling provider, allowing them the freedom to lay wagers wherever, whenever and on whatever they please.
Thankfully, there is already a healthy infrastructure in place to deal with that demand. The list of sports betting apps in Canada is growing longer by the day, with sportsbook operators giving their customers round-the-clock access to better odds, up-to-the-minute stats and exclusive promotions and bonuses. There’s an app for everything these days – so it should come as no surprise that an increasing percentage of Canadians will choose to bet on their smartphone via the app in the coming months and years.
Even before the passing of Bill C-218 officially endorsed sports betting from a legal perspective, overseas operators had been serving a Canadian market for years. Although the practice was not legal prior to this summer, it wasn’t strictly illegal, either. This created a grey area which many foreign sportsbooks exploited, with some reports suggesting that billions of dollars were being funneled into them every year.
Now that the practice has become fair game for domestic operators, it should open the floodgates with regard to the number of available options. Early adopters and established names in the industry were quick to jump aboard the bandwagon, but more and more rivals will spring up as time goes on. This can only be good news for punters, since they will gain access to more lucrative incentives and better markets with the increased competition.
As well as increased competition among operators, it’s also likely that this excess supply will be met by ballooning demand. Indeed, a particularly bullish report from Deloitte Canada speculated that the industry could be worth a massive $28 billion inside five years. Given that it isn’t projected to exceed $1 billion in its first 12 months of operation, that’s quite a seismic shift.
What that means for players is that sports betting is likely to become endorsed and advertised with greater frequency. Collaborations between teams and individual athletes will enhance the profile of the sector, while lucrative sponsorship deals will benefit both parties. And of course, the government itself is poised to cash in on a significant revenue stream, potentially swelling its coffers for reinvestment in other areas of policy.
Another exciting possibility is the increased incorporation of technological advances into the sports betting experience. Fans can already benefit from livestreams of their favorite matches, as well as real-time analysis and in-play betting opportunities. However, the sky is the limit when it comes to tech and sports betting, since there are a variety of tantalizing innovations currently on the horizon.
Chief among these is the possibility of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) becoming a more central pillar of sportsbooks. Imagine if it were possible to view a sporting event in 3D, as if you were in the stadium yourself, all from the comfort of your own home? That kind of tech breakthrough might seem lightyears away, yet similar software is already commonplace in the world of gaming. If it could be adapted to live sporting events, it would dramatically alter the way in which sport is consumed (and bet upon) all across Canada. Watch this space for news on potential developments of VR and AR in 2022.
Although sports betting is still in its infancy in Canada, it has already made quite a splash among punters, operators and regulators alike. As the practice becomes more and more mainstream, it’s to be expected that it will both deliver higher revenues and benefit from greater investment – potentially creating some exciting times ahead.
Carl Madsen, who had worked for the NFL as an official for more than 20 years, died on Sunday. He was 71.
According to NFL.com, Madsen died on his way home from Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, where he was working as a replay official.
While details are hazy on Madsen’s death, the Nashville Police Department told TMZ that early signs indicate Madsen suffered “a medical emergency” while driving on I-65 North. A spokesperson reportedly said officers answered a call about a motorist blocking a traffic lane and found Madsen unconscious at the scene.
Chest compressions were immediately administered once Madsen was removed from the vehicle, per the report, but he ultimately died after being transported to a nearby hospital. His exact cause of death remains unknown.
An Air Force veteran, Madsen spent 12 years as an on-field official from 1997 to 2008 before transitioning to his replay official role. He was reportedly tied with Paul Weidner as the league’s most experienced replay official.
“Carl Madsen was an NFL officiating fixture for more than two decades, first as a highly respected on-field official before transitioning to a replay role beginning in 2009,” NFL senior VP of officiating training and development Walt Anderson said in a statement. “A terrific friend and colleague, Carl’s love of football and dedication to officiating was ever-present, as he generously shared his time to mentor young officials at clinics across the country. A veteran of the Air Force, Carl had a tremendous spirit and will be greatly missed.”
“Carl will be missed by those who worked with him on the field and in replay,” Green said. “He had a nickname among his fellow officials of “Big Country” which was not only related to his size but to his big personality as a warm and generous man.”
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