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Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres – Game #16 Preview, Projected Lineups & TV Info – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Joseph Woll will make his NHL debut between the pipes as the Maple Leafs look to make it eight wins in their last nine games tonight in Buffalo (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet/CBC).

The easy move would’ve been to call up Michael Hutchinson for what likely would have been another mediocre-at-best backup start, but I’ll give the Leafs credit for changing it up here.

The 23-year-old Woll is currently playing on a one-year, two-way deal signed coming off of the expiration of his entry-level contract. His three-year professional career has been marred by injuries, and the timing of his healthy stretches often seemed to coincide with plenty of shoddy defensive performances from the Marlies team in front of him. Some inconsistency to his play, the myriad injuries, and some bad timing all conspired to leave him with very underwhelming AHL numbers to date (consistently sub .895) in a limited sample (50 games spanning three seasons).

It feels like the Leafs have decided that if they were going to wait until Woll finally hit a run of statistically-sparking injury-free AHL games before calling him up for an NHL look, they might have never gotten a glimpse at him at the highest level before his time with the organization runs its course. The Leafs organization believes enough in the highly athletic, 6’4 Missouri native’s talent and character — more than any professional track record he’s put together — to the point where we’ll get a peek at him tonight (in the building where the team drafted him 62nd overall back in 2016, no less).

That the Leafs have been so invested in keeping Woll’s development on track despite continuous setbacks — involving him on the taxi-squad last season, bringing him up at different times over the past few years to practice with the team, including on road trips — also in part speaks to the fact that the organization knows it needs to improve its overall drafting and development of goaltenders. They haven’t produced a single one of note since James Reimer back in 2006.

It is a big part of why the team has lost so many of their second and third-string options to waiver claims over the years. They have not developed young, cheap, capable goalies who can freely move back and forth between the leagues. They acquired Jack Campbell from LA in a trade that looks to be nothing short of a masterstroke by Kyle Dubas, but they then needed to go free-agent shopping and allocate significant (precious) cap dollars to find his 1B/backup in Petr Mrazek, who is currently hurt.

Should the Leafs have given Woll the start at home last night with the team rested? Probably not given Calgary was playing pretty good hockey coming in. Buffalo has been a house of horrors for the Leafs historically, but this Sabres team is returning to Earth after a surprise start with five losses in its last six games, and they’re also tired having hosted Edmonton for a 3-2 win last night.

With the Leafs rolling at the moment (seven wins in their last eight), the timing makes a good amount of sense. Let’s see what the kid’s got, and let’s hope the Leafs show up for him tonight.


Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the decision to start Joseph Woll:

I think the big thing is that as an organization, we really believe in him. We believe in his talent. In an ideal world, you want him to really get rolling with the Marlies and really work to develop himself over the course of the season. As it turns out now, there is an opportunity now.

He has played well through camp. He has worked extremely hard. It has been a while now, but he is coming off of an outstanding last start for the Marlies in his last game action. He has had more than enough time to practice with us.

I told him three or four days ago he was going to be getting the start tonight. He has had more than enough opportunity to prepare. It is a big night for him.

I think the big thing is that our organization really believes in him and his talent. Sometimes things come because you have really earned it and established yourself at the AHL level. Sometimes it happens because someone gets hurt and the opportunity is there.

Whether it is Michael Hutchinson or even Erik Kallgren — who has been down there and has done a good job with the Marlies — we had some decisions to make there. Joe is a third-year pro with us now. It is a good chance for him.

Sabres head coach Don Granato on Dylan Cozens’ two goals in last night’s win on a night when he matched up against Connor McDavid:

The decision started a few days ago. I watched some clips of Dylan. I finished the clips and I asked him a question: Was he ready to play against that matchup? I watched his body language. If his body language was different, he wouldn’t have gotten that matchup. I liked what I saw, and I felt he was ready for the challenge, whichever way it went.

… Those guys [Cozens, Caggiula, Hinostroza] had good chemistry. They moved as a unit. When you do that, you are pacing off of each other and you can generate a lot more speed. You could see them building from the Washington game. They had a lot of opportunity, but they didn’t create scoring chances. They followed it up with two good practices, and I felt they were ready for the next step.

Jack Campbell on Joseph Woll:

He is a great kid. A tremendous talent, too. I have a lot of fun watching him. I call him Quickie 2.0 — not to give him too much pressure. He is really flexible. He makes some big-time saves and battles in practice. I just love a lot of the characteristics of his game. I just love having him up here.

Auston Matthews on Woll:

He has been great. He comes to the rink every day with a great attitude. He is always smiling. I have known him since the national team days, so he is a great kid. He works hard. He loves the game and loves being in there and competing. He’ll be really excited and ready to go.


Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Forwards
#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #88 William Nylander
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #16 Mitch Marner
#47 Pierre Engvall – #64 David Kampf – #25 Ondrej Kase
#20 Nick Ritchie – #19 Jason Spezza – #94 Kirill Semyonov

Defensemen
#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#8 Jake Muzzin – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #37 Timothy Liljegren

Goaltenders
Starter: #60 Joseph Woll
#36 Jack Campbell

Extras: Rasmus Sandin, Wayne Simmonds, Joey Anderson
Injured
: Ilya Mikheyev, Petr Mrazek


Buffalo Sabres Projected Lines

Forwards
#53 Jeff Skinner – #72 Tage Thompson – #74 Rasmus Asplund
#28 Zemgus Girgensons – #20 Cody Eakin – #21 Kyle Okposo
#91 Drake Caggiula – #24 Dylan Cozens – #29 Vinnie Hinostroza
#96 Anders Bjork – #25 Arttu Ruostalainen – #15 John Hayden

Defensemen
#26 Rasmus Dahlin – #13 Mark Pysyk
#78 Jacob Bryson – #33 Colin Miller
#4 Will Butcher – #8 Robert Hagg

Goaltenders
Starter: #80 Aaron Dell
#31: Dustin Tokarski

Injuries: Alex Tuch, Casey Mittelstadt, Henrik Jokiharju, Victor Olofsson, Craig Anderson

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It's Western's running game vs. Saskatchewan's air attack in Vanier Cup – CBC.ca

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When Greg Marshall became head coach of the Western Mustangs football team in 2007, he set at standard that remains unyieldingly high. 

In his tenure, Western has contended for major championships nearly every year, playing in the Yates Cup OUA title game 11 times and winning six. 

They’ve also played in two Vanier Cup national championships, winning once in 2017 and adding to the two national titles Marshall won as an assistant under Larry Haylor. 

At this point, winning is not merely expected, it’s required. 

But when the Mustangs face the Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday in the 56th Vanier Cup in Quebec City, they’ll battle a program with similar aspirations. The game can be seen live on CBC Television, CBC Gem and CBCSports.ca starting at 1 p.m. ET.

WATCH | CBC’s Signa Butler, Justin Dunk discuss what to know ahead of the Vanier Cup:

What to expect at the 2021 Vanier Cup

4 days ago

CBC’s Signa Butler and Justin Dunk sit down to discuss the game-breakers and tactical battles to watch for when the Western Mustangs take on the Saskatchewan Huskies in Laval, Que. at the 2021 Vanier Cup. 4:40

In the four seasons since Scott Flory took over as head coach, the Huskies have won two Hardy Cup championships as the top team in the Canada West Conference. 

His club has the No. 3-rated offence in the country this season, just behind Western’s No. 2, and Flory is inching toward the same level of success he had as a player.

As a CFL Hall of Famer who won three Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes and two Vanier Cups as a standout on the Huskies offensive line, his standards are exceedingly high. 

Here’s what to watch for as these two powerhouses prepare battle for a national title.

Western’s running game:

The Mustangs have the best rushing game in the country this season, led by three stellar backs who all have the ability to chew up more than 100 yards in a game. 

Keon Edwards, a second-year running back from Toronto, was the No. 1 rusher in all of U Sports this season with 1,217 yards, 16 touchdowns and an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

Fourth-year back Trey Humes, from Ajax, Ont., was Robin to his Batman for much of the season, finishing as the nation’s No. 4-rated rusher. 

WATCH | Looking back at the Vanier Cup:

Vanier Cup: Past stars of university football’s biggest game

2 years ago

With the Vanier Cup taking place this week, take a look back at some of the game’s biggest past stars. 2:37

But Saint-Jerome, Que. rookie Edouard Wanadi had a breakout game in the Mitchell Bowl against St. Francis Xavier, with 238 yards and three touchdowns. 

Look for Western to run early and often, especially if December winds disrupt the Mustangs passing attack.

Saskatchewan passing under pressure: 

Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus, from Regina, Sask., has had an MVP-calibre season, averaging 265 passing yards per game and 21 total touchdowns. He’s a major reason Saskatchewan finished second in scoring average this season with 35 points per game (including playoffs).

But Nyhus and the Huskies offensive line will be under pressure from the remarkably stingy Western defence, led by second-year lineman Deonte White, from Ajax, Ont., who led the nation in sacks during the regular season with 7.5. 

Western’s defence allowed just 10.9 points per game this season, including the playoffs. Their average margin of victory is 36.7 points.

University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ quarterback Mason Nyhus averaged 265 passing yards this season and threw for 21 total touchdowns. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Another big game from Machart?

Huskies running back Adam Machart, from Saskatoon, will go down as one of the top rushers in school history. 

He also scored one of the most important touchdowns in recent memory, dashing into the end zone with five seconds left in the Uteck Bowl to lift Saskatchewan over Montreal and into the Vanier Cup.

Machart is a small, shifty runner — listed at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds — with a knack for dancing around defenders and the ability to make big plays. If the Huskies offensive line can clear space for him in key moments, he could be an X-factor. 

If not, it will be a long day for Nyhus and the rest of the Huskies offence.

Western has depth at QB:

If you want insight into Marshall’s tenacious perfectionism, have a look at the benching of Jackson White, who began this season as Western’s starting QB. 

White, a former understudy to Hec Crighton Award winner Chris Merchant, lost the starting job to Evan Hillock three games into the 2021 campaign. 

A shaky performance in Week 2 gave Western its only loss of the year, 23-21 to the Guelph Gryphons. The following week against Laurier, Marshall pulled White after a scoreless first half that found Western trailing 7-0 at the break. 

First-year pivot Evan Hillock, from Hamilton, took over in the second half, leading the team to a 36-16 victory. He’s had the starting job ever since, and White appeared to accept his role as a high-quality backup.

If Hillock falters or goes down, White may be able to step in and help. 

He said all the right things after being demoted, publicly placing the team’s fortunes above his own. This is what’s expected at Western, and other powerhouse programs that aim to contend every year: Win at all costs, and no matter what — stay ready.

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Leafs lose in shootout after three-goal comeback led by Jason Spezza – Pension Plan Puppets

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It certainly could’ve been worse. After falling behind 0-3 i the first half of the game, the Toronto Maple Leafs mounted a second period comeback against the Minnesota Wild only to lose in a shootout. Jason Spezza scored twice and added an assist for a three-point night. Morgan Rielly finished with a Mitch Marner hat trick (three assists), and Auston Matthews scored as well in the loss. Jack Campbell stopped 37 of 40 in the loss, very similar to his counterpart Cam Talbot, who gave up three on 42 shots.

Usually the Leafs have fallen apart when falling behind early, for example the Penguins game from earlier in the season, but credit to them they fought back and tied the game all before the third period. Spezza was obviously huge in that, but all of Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, and Rielly brought their A-game. They showed fight, which is promising.

The fact that the win-o-meter swung the Leafs way at all after the 0-3 goal, that’s impressive to say the Leafs. You win some and you lose some, at the very least the Leafs got a point, didn’t lose the game in real hockey, and continue their strong form.

First Period

With Marner out of the lineup, Simmonds jumped up to the top line with Matthews and Bunting. That line had a lot of fun below the goal line and in the corners, but it was pretty clear Matthews wasn’t going to play as much as the other two. True to that form, after the Leafs got an offensive zone faceoff, Matthews jumped out on the left wing with Tavares and Nylander. After seeing the third line the shift before, that trio was, uh, notably better.

Rielly got high-sticked midway through the period, sending the Leafs to the power play. The opening faceoff was scuffled a bit, but the puck somehow got to Matthews in the slot. His clapper got parried away by Talbot’s blocker. The power play had some trouble making passes as Rielly left the puck behind him once, and then Tavares sent it to the wrong spot when going back to the point.

0-1

Holl bobbles a puck at the defensive blue line and the Wild take advantage with the first goal of the game scored by Jordan Greenway.

After One

Not a markedly bad period for the Leafs, but Jack Campbell had to make three or four really big saves off the rush and in front. He looked sharp in the first period, very positionally sound and dialed in. Shot attempts were 14-16, but the Leafs only had 33% of the expected goals.

Second Period

After Rielly went to the box for cross checking, the Leafs got a power play. Matthews had another chance on his own rebound but couldn’t get all of it on the second shot against Talbot’s left pad.

0-2

Another goal for the Wild against Muzzin-Holl, this one was on the penalty kill with Kaše in the box. Zuccarello sent a pass to the slot and the puck ricocheted off Holl skate and in.

Now a penalty to Dermott after Sandin stepped up at the line and the Wild got through on transition.

0-3

Another one, this one from Marcus Foligno off a faceoff. Two bad bounces, first off a clear from Brodie, then off a shot block from Matthews.

The Leafs were now chasing the puck and feeling outnumbered at all points on the ice. At this point, Keefe finally put Nylander with Matthews.

Nylander, who had been the best player on the Leafs to this point, had a brilliant drive past Goligoski. He went around the outside, but Talbot stretched the pad and made an incredible save.

1-3

Spezza! Another weird bounce as Spezza scores from an impossible angle (beyond what he tries in practice) as the puck bounces off the back of Talbot’s head an in to put the Leafs on the board.

That goal seemed to give the Leafs some more life. Well, either that or the Leafs were looking a lot more dangerous anytime Nylander was on the ice.

Tavares, Nylander, and Matthews had yet another big chance in front of the net. Matthews deftly tipped a point shot from Rielly for Tavares to jam away at the puck in front of the net. Nylander dove into the pile to get the rebound with Matthews following up for the third time, but Talbot collapsed and didn’t open a hole for the puck to slip through. Jordie Benn took a penalty on the play, leading to…

2-3

Spezza with his second on the power play from the bumper position! Assists to Matthews and Rielly, with Nylander creating a great screen in front.

A new-look third line nearly scored again as Simmonds was hooked by Goligoski otherwise he would’ve tied it. Good pass from Ritchie at the side of the net to get the puck to the Scarborough legend.

3-3

And in the final minute of the period, Matthews ties the game on the power play! A third point for Spezza as he gets the primary assist. Also getting his third point: Morgan Rielly!

After Two

These screenshots are courtesy of Katya. Here is the Leafs shot map after the 0-3 goal and then the shot map after the 3-3 game. Safe to say the blob got better. In terms of who was getting those chance, it was Nylander, Tavares, a big gap, and then Kerfoot and the rest. Safe to say that second line is pretty dominant at the moment. In all situations, Matthews was the top Leaf in chances, so he’s at least getting it done when it matters most.

Third Period

Rielly and Eriksson-Ek both held each other’s sticks, but only Rielly got the penalty. Then on the penalty kill faceoff, Kämpf gets called for a high-sticking penalty. Muzzin, Holl, and Kerfoot were out to kill the penalty in front of Campbell, who made one very good save on Zuccarello. In the dying seconds of the 5-on-3, Campbell lost his stick while trying to spin around and stop a shot on the far side. He didn’t have to formally make a save but it was very stressful as Rielly eventually got out of the box, got to the puck first, and cleared it away. Credit to the trio for killing the whole 1:48 of the 5-on-3 on the road.

The Leafs ran lots of lines in the second two periods, but one that I especially liked was Spezza with Matthews and Bunting. Even if they can’t run it for the whole game, it created some good chances when together.

I’d like to disagree with Omar, Dermott went full Dermott there.

In the final 30 seconds of regulation, Foligno drove the net and ran all the way through Campbell. The Leafs cleared the puck despite there being no call for goalie interference at all. Keefe was yelling at the refs afterwards and rightfully so as Campbell was both in his crease and hit in the head. What more do you need to make that call? For it to have happened 40 minutes sooner?

Overtime

Matthews, Nylander, and Rielly to start. Kaprizov had the first chance, but shot the puck very high and wide. Brodin caught the Leafs on a line change, but he kicked the puck forward and Campbell cleared the puck into the bench.

Tavares had a chance a minute and a half in. Bunting nearly got a rebound on a second shot from Muzzin. Campbell made a good poke check going the other way on Fiala just before that play.

Kaprizov had another chance, but Nylander tied him up and stopped the shot. Going the other way, Nylander made a nice pass to Matthews behind him, Rielly followed up and nearly beat Talbot under the blocker.

With Engvall, Tavares, and Sandin on the ice Dumba had a point shot, but Campbell came across and made the save.

Spezza nearly got his hat trick, but he got slashed hard on the hands and had to go to the room to check on his right arm/left hand. Brodin got called for slashing and the Leafs went to the power play for less than a minute. Wild fans didn’t like it, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have liked that goalie interference call either.

Nylander nearly scored twice on the power play, but nothing doing as a shootout was needed. The Leafs big four was clearly exhausted as they didn’t move much on the power play.

Shootout

  1. Zuccarello scores on Campbell (0-1)
  2. Kaše stopped by Talbot
  3. Fiala stopped by Campbell!
  4. Matthews scores! (1-1)
  5. Kaprizov scores on Campbell (1-2)
  6. Nylander stopped by Talbot

Leafs lose.

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Moulding opens up about meeting with Team Bottcher that led to dismissal from team – CBC.ca

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Darren Moulding had seen signs of fracture within Team Bottcher well before things came to a head for the reigning national men’s champions this week.

A group text about a sponsorship request led to an in-person team meeting at the Edmonton home of lead Karrick Martin on Friday evening. Moulding was joined at the sitdown by Martin, skip Brendan Bottcher and second Brad Thiessen.

“When I showed up, I walked in the door and they basically just told me I was cut,” Moulding said.

Team Bottcher issued a statement later Friday night confirming Moulding’s departure. The release added he’d be “taking time away from the game for personal reasons,” something Moulding described on Twitter as a “complete BS statement.”

For a team that’s ranked sixth in the world and will soon wear the Maple Leaf at the Tim Hortons Brier, the mid-season move — even after a disappointing showing at Canada’s Olympic trials — came as a major surprise.

The team said it planned to name a new teammate at a later date. Bottcher said he’d have no further comment until a media availability Monday, which was later rescheduled for Sunday afternoon via a Curling Canada conference call.

Moulding, reached by The Canadian Press at his home in Lacombe, Alta., said ripples within the team started to reach a higher level when coach Don Bartlett joined them at the Brier for the first time in 2020.

Further division came last season in Calgary, said Moulding, who battled a significant back injury in the curling bubble. It was there, he said, that he challenged Bottcher on issues that he felt were important to him and his teammates.

“I kind of stuck up for them,” Moulding said. “Starting there, basically he was unwilling to make it right and do what needed to be done to fix the problem and I wouldn’t back down. So he just decided he’d had enough of me.”

Moulding said he wanted a better business structure within the team and basically “took the bullet” for trying to get some transparency.

“That went over like a lead balloon,” he said. “Brendan doesn’t like that. If he can’t control everything all the time, then he’s going to need to find somebody that just lets him do it. It’ll be interesting to see who can handle that.”

Specifics on team revenue and split percentages from prize payouts were not available.

‘If I’m part of the team I want it to be equal share’

“If I’m part of the team I want it to be equal share,” Moulding said. “That means not just monetarily but also in having a say in how we do things and being able to see how we do things and having transparency. So it’s definitely a business issue.

“It was never indicated to me that it was a performance issue. At the trials, obviously Brendan struggled there. Everybody saw the games on TV. They know what happened.”

Bottcher, who won a world junior title in 2012, was 3-5 to settle for a fifth-place tie in round-robin play at SaskTel Centre, coming well short of the playoff cut.

Moulding said he called the team meeting after Bottcher “kind of freaked out on me” in a reply to his group text. He described the skip as someone who was typically “very defensive,” who could get “upset and emotional.”

“He’d be lashing out at me for no reason and not making very much sense,” Moulding said. “The other two guys just sit there. They don’t say anything. They’ve been curling with him for a long time and I think they know that if they say something, they’re afraid to get cut, which is sad because they’re both really good players.

“They don’t deserve that. I wish that they could find a little bit of courage and stick up for themselves a little bit but they aren’t made the same way I am.”

Moulding was initially hoping to find out why the skip was upset. Instead the meeting focused on reasons why he was out.

“I asked why and Brendan just said that I’ve said hurtful things about Don and him, which I disagree [with], but I just told the truth about a couple things that I saw happening in the team that I didn’t like,” he said.

“I had to stick to my morals and my values and I wouldn’t let him off the hook. Sometimes telling the truth gets you in trouble, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Moulding later updated his Twitter profile bio to read: “Proud Dad, Free Agent Curler.”

An accompanying picture of the members of Team Bottcher was changed to a sunset over a lake.

‘I’m healthy, happy and I’ll play any time’

“I can assure you that I’m healthy, happy and I’ll play any time,” Moulding said. “I don’t have any personal reasons that prevent me from curling. So that [statement] was unfair because that can affect my curling career. They’re allowed to cut me. It sucks, the timing sucks. They could have just said, ‘We want a new player, you’re done.’

“It’s not exactly nice but to misrepresent my status after five years of basically giving everything I could to the team, I just felt I deserved a little bit better than that. But people do things in their own way.”

The Bottcher foursome reached three Brier finals before finally breaking through last season. The team will defend its title this March in Lethbridge, Alta.

Moulding said the team provided some additional “fairly petty” reasons to him for making the switch.

One was that he was “cranky” at times in the bubble. Another was that they didn’t like that he called for a hog-line official in a game against the Netherlands at the world championship, Moulding said.

“They brought Marc Kennedy in to play fifth but they didn’t tell me about it,” he said. “I found out much the same way I found out about getting cut — by surprise. So that was a problem.

“But in that situation [in the bubble], being injured, I would have really appreciated a little bit of support.”

The four players spent four full seasons together and appeared to be a strong unit with solid on-ice chemistry.

“I’d say what you saw out there was real,” Moulding said. “We really were that close. I would say that since Don came on, we really got worse that way. But it was just enabling Brendan. I think that’s the major thing.”

Bottcher was the only team member scheduled to appear on Sunday’s conference call.

Interview requests for Bartlett, Thiessen and Martin were made through the federation on Saturday but it wasn’t immediately clear if they would be made available.

After getting a chance to absorb the news overnight and into Saturday, Moulding said he’s happy with how he has handled everything and wouldn’t change a thing.

While sad he won’t get to defend his Brier title, Moulding said he’s excited about the future and is hopeful that he’ll compete at a high level sometime soon.

“For the first three years together, it was wonderful,” Moulding said. “It ran its course. But I would reflect back on it as a positive time in my life.”

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